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Screen_Shot_2016-11-09_at_8.14.38_PMThe first session of the Senate Select Committee into the Auditor General’s special audit report on Immigration for the period 2011 to 2013 was held today at the National Assembly building in Belmopan. This important committee was authorised by the Senate to call on any person named in the report and question them, and to order the provision of documents or information in relation to the findings of the report.


UDP Senator Aldo Salazar, who was elected as Chairman two weeks ago, guided the meeting. Unlike the previous gathering of the Committee, the Chamber and Opposition Senators attended today’s meeting as both groups have agreed to take part in the sessions.


In today’s session, the Committee summoned Auditor General Dorothy Bradley for interrogation. She arrived flanked by two attorneys Senior Counsel Derek Courtenay and Phillip Palacio. The legal backup is not surprising considering that the Auditor General has come under heavy criticism by the Prime Minister and several of his Cabinet Ministers, who have accused her of making erroneous claims in the report. In addition, the Auditor General has faced various threats of lawsuits from persons named in the report, and at least one of them, the Speaker of the House, has taken her to court. But today’s appearance wasn’t to carry out a full-length inquiry; rather it was a preliminary hearing where the Auditor General explained the origins of her report and provided more background about her office’s work.

 

Aldo Salazar – Chairman of the Senate Inquiry


“You were requested to prepare a Special Audit of the Immigration Department, is that correct?”


Mrs. Dorothy Bradley – Auditor General


“That is correct.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman of the Senate Inquiry


“How is it that you arrived at preparing that report?”


Mrs. Dorothy Bradley – Auditor General


“During the course of my daily duties, I came across a memo from the ministry of labour and local government, rural and national emergency management and Immigration and Nationality dated September 30th where it made some reference to some missing visas within that department.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman of the Senate Inquiry


“What year was that?”


Mrs. Dorothy Bradley – Auditor General


“September 30th, 2013.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman of the Senate Inquiry


“In September 2013 you came across a memo in the course of your duties relating to missing Visas within the Immigration and Nationality Department and that cause you to proceed to investigate that matter, what happened in the course of that investigation?”


Mrs. Dorothy Bradley – Auditor General


“During the course of that investigation, well what happened is that once I found that and I decided I wanted to do an audit on Visas a team was established and they were assigned to take on the audit of the missing Visas, once we started that audit, it was a public discussion in a sense where there was the case of Mr. Kim with a passport and…”

 

Screen_Shot_2016-11-09_at_8.15.06_PMAldo Salazar – Chairman of the Senate Inquiry


“Whose case was?”


Mrs. Dorothy Bradley – Auditor General


“Wong Hong Kim, in the course of executing that initial audit which was to cover the missing Visas we the learnt of the case with the passport and so we simply broaden our scope and included that part of it.”


The Auditor informed the Committee that she submitted her report to the Minister of Finance who is Prime Minister Dean Barrow, before sending copies to Hon. Beverly Castillo, CEO Edmond Zuniga and Immigration Director Maria Marin. She also discussed some of the challenges during her investigations which includes poor cooperation from the Government’s CITO office to provide technical advice on accessing computerized information.

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