How deep is Penner implicated in this latest immigration fraud, is something which the appointed Minister of Immigration Godwin Hulse did not reveal today. What he did state; though, is that he has instructed the director of Immigration to hand over all documents found at the department with inconstancies to the relevant authorities, including the police department. But will Penner face criminal charges now that he does not have the support of his party and how will the department carry out a criminal investigation if the main man accused is not even in the country? Those are questions that we hope will be answered in the days to come.
Godwin Hulse- Minister of Immigration
"Even though now there are files that we cannot locate we are able to retrieve enough documentation to be able to establish a paper trail. As Hon. Prime Minister said that may not be sufficient for the authorities to seek any conviction. I think he laid that out very well, but it was sufficient for me to sensitize the Prime Minister and the Cabinet of this situation. What I can properly say at this time, we continue with this investigation. It's a large amount of files we have to look at very carefully to be absolutely sure that we don't disenfranchise those persons who rightfully, righteously obtained their nationality certificates and their passports but select or deselect those who didn't do so, or who were facilitated in not doing so. We intend to see this process through. That we want to say and we intend also to make the administrative changes within the department so that we bring an end to what I will call a long, long, long history of wrong doing in the Department of Immigration. I want to reiterate there are good persons in that department who have cooperated with us. There is a lot of friction in the department, let's not fool ourselves. There are a lot of things that are happening in there and this is why those who are out there suggesting that files are all over the place - there are a lot of things that are happening in there and people are trying to protect themselves and protect their backs and protect their friends and those who they need to protect, that's a fact. We are fighting against that wave of resistance, but I can assure the Belizean public that battle we will win."
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"The Immigration Department has a system by which as a kind of backup, documents are scanned. The Minister produces to me some of the scanned documents. That's perfectly enough for me to come to a conclusion. That's perfectly enough for me to determine that on the facts as disclose by those scanned documents somebody is guilty of wrong doing. The evidence that the Minister has uncovered shows no not even the slightest indication of any other minister being involved in any kind of passport scheme such as is suggested Penner may have been involved in. If we were as you put it trying to protect Penner and I say again for the record I reject that phraseology in order to safeguard other ministers - why would we stop now? How on earth would you have gotten to know of what it is that Minister Hulse and two of his most senior, most trusted officials have now discovered."
As mentioned by the Prime Minister, if Penner refuses to resign and the party expels him, he still does not lose his seat in Cayo North East. For that to occur, Penner will have to voluntarily resign or cross the floor or the recall referendum must be a success. Penner is currently out of the country obtaining medical treatment in Guatemala for hypertension. Or at least that is what we are told.
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