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David-Nanes-SchnitzerWhere is David Miguel Na-nes Schnitz-er? That is tonight’s million dollar question and no one seems to have the answer. On Friday, the international fugitive known here in Belize as David Banes, received bail of $10,000 from Justice Denis Hanomansingh when he appeared in the Supreme Court after he was charged for uttering a forged document, the document being a Belize driver’s license.

The fact that Schnitzer skipped town after receiving bail is raising eyebrows and putting a dent on the country’s justice system, after all, the man is wanted in Mexico for his involvement in the Allen Stanford Ponzi scheme which saw investors in that country swindled of some 42 million dollars.

The first organization that is questioning Belize’s justice system is Citizen’s Organized by Liberty Through Action, COLA, who issued a release today questioning how does Belize's justice system reconcile granting bail to a man accused of grave crimes, who is no longer a Belizean and never truly was, while two young mothers are sent to jail over the weekend for a relatively minor offence.

Geovanni Brackett – President COLA

“We question it because of so many level; we believe that this gentleman is a flight risk, the fact that he turned in his documents doesn’t say much in our view reason why is that he has been found with so many other documents that has been found to be illegal and so we believe that knowing that this man is a fugitive and wanted and that he was caught by US Marshalls that when the DPP office was requesting for an adjournment we would have had hope that they would have gotten and given time to whatever evidence the US or Mexican authorities to bring evidence forward it also for us on the layman term there was just two women that were caught stealing underwear and they were denied bail and I believe that these women had children and have a family as well, I believe that there was not enough moral grounds to give them bail and I think they have not even a passport and I think we have to question judgment across the board and how it is being distributed not to insinuate that anything illegal or anything is happing within the court but we have to question how the justice is being applied across the board with different matters and we would like for more leniency on behalf of the courts in certain areas not that we are condoning one crime over the other but when you have a fugitive within custody you know better than anybody else that when you hold that individual you better try to hold them with delay enough to get evidence because if that individual having the money that he has and the background that he has is definitely clear in our view that he will try flee from one country to another.”

By now you may already know that Schnitzer, who was living in Belize for two years before he was caught in San Pedro Town, was able to obtain a Belizean passport, driver’s license and social security card under the name of David Banes, and this has not escaped COLA.

While the Belizean passport was revoked last Wednesday when it was discovered that it was acquired through means of fraud, back in 2012, this was not known by the Department of Public Prosecutions upon objecting to Schnitzer’s bail. This is clear indication that there is a lack of communication between the DPP, police and government, says COLA’s President, Geovanni Brackett.

Geovanni Brackett – President COLA

It seems that a lot of coordination has been ongoing for some time within the citizen Kim matter and Elvin Penner trail there has been miscommunication to the DPP office and other areas in the department in government and this is an ongoing situation whereby you have that locks within and you said a lack of preparedness but also sometimes you want to wonder if there is a lack in will or if there is a lack particularly if it is a the lower level people who are supposed to been doing the investigation to bring it to the DPP office but sometime you find out that the police is saying that they send one thing and the DPP Office is saying the never receive something, it is a very nasty situation.”

It has also not escaped COLA that some of the names of the same people who facilitated the issuance of the Kim Wong Hong passport also appear on the Schnitzer paper trail. This, says Brackett, calls for a thorough investigation.

Geovanni Brackett – President COLA

“That it appears that there is gross corruption across the board within public sector not only at the ministerial level I know that at times COLA focuses on that, but public officers who are corrupt and that is the truth you have this individual and the name that has been written on his documents in terms of this person situation is that you have name that were in the citizen Kim scenario that were also found out in this case and I think this took place about a year ago or before the citizen Kim this took place which would give evidence to me that there has been wrong doings in the Immigration for some time and not only Immigration but you have the right to question who did he got all these other documents driver’s  license etc. we have to really tightened up things in the public sector as well so that we can have better accountability, this is a gross evidence of corruption through out of various public sector and you wonder how do you clean up such corruption and for us at COLA we understand that you cannot eradicate corruption but it has to start at the level at the top with the political will to deal with it straight down and I think if nobody is being reprimand for this particular situation it will be an ongoing corruption within the public sector.”

According to Brackett there is a need to hear from the Minister for Immigration and Nationality, the new Attorney General and also from the Minister of National Security, about why Schnitzer was not properly vetted by his agencies before being allowed to improperly share a piece of the Jewel.

Also of concern is the black eye this latest case will give to Belize internationally.

Geovanni Brackett – President COLA

“I think on a larger scale it has an international black eye on it as well I think this could a very bad mark on our credibility, on our justice system internationally, I don’t want imagine the US really wanting to capture somebody or have somebody that they captured put in your government authorities hands and then you cannot find them after that, I donlt think that speaks well in Washington.”

Schnitzer was the president of Stanford Group Mexico heading operations in Mexico, Panama and other parts of Latin America. It is believed that he has left the country and he did so by sea.

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