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Former Director of Immigration, Ruth Meighan, who served as the head of the Department of Immigration from October 2010 to February 2013, returned before the Senate Select Committee hearing today to continue answering questions on the alleged irregularities exposed in the Auditor General’s special audit report. Meighan’s testimony is key to the Senate Committee’s investigation because the special audit covered the period 2011 to 2013, which encompasses the time she served as Director.


In her appearance today, Meighan’s responses to questions from the Committee members was clearer about the role she played at the Department. While she emphasized and repeated that her task as Director was to essentially accept files and give them final approval, she said that she did so believing that the files that came to her desk were genuine and proper. Nonetheless, she accepted that if anyone should be held accountable, it should be her.


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“There appears to be a significant number of people who came to Belize as visitors by way of a VISA and shortly thereafter got nationality and our passport following thereafter, are you aware of those instances?”


RuthRuth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“Yes”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“And certainly in so far as the VISA is concerned you are the Director, you would approved?”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“Yes”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“In so far as the Nationality is concern you are the Director you’ve would have recommended to the minister?”

 

Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“Yes”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“And my specific question to you is, you are telling us that you are not aware that a few weeks sometimes days, months before you had approved a VISA for x and a few days, weeks or months later you are recommending to the minister that this same person get Nationality, you are not aware of that?”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“Not aware of it Sir, because like I said the information on the VISA was not presented to me at the time, a file come to me saying that this person has met the requirement for Nationality and the Nationality file shows that the person has been living in Belize for five years based on the stamp that were in the passport and those were the information that I had in front of me and that is what I used to give the recommendation.”


Ruth Meighan - Former Director of Immigration


“The volume of files coming to your desk at any given time, it’s extremely difficult for you to, as a matter of fact you are not even looking that false information has been presented, that information that you have in front of you, you are of the firm believe that that information is presented were accurate information.”


Senator Eamon Eamon Courtney


“Madam Director, you are not aware prior to your going to Immigration that that was perhaps one of the departments that there was certain previous Immigration scandals it is certainly one of the areas that is open to a lot of corruption, were you not aware of that prior to becoming Director?”


Ruth Meighan - Former Director of Immigration


“Even if I was aware of that the fact that information is presented to me as accurate information, information that is presented on files telling me that these files meets all the requirements that is what I used unfortunately that is what I had.”


Senator Eamon Eamon Courtney


“So, again to be more direct as far as you were concern it was the officers below you who are at fault?”


Ruth Meighan - Former Director of Immigration


“As far as I was concern I was given inaccurate information by which I made decisions on.”


Senator Eamon Eamon Courtney


“You were given inaccurate information?”


Ruth Meighan - Former Director of Immigration


“That is what the Audit Report is saying, that the information presented they were falsified.”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“Who is responsible, who is accountable?”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“I am the person that would give the approval so I would believe I would be the person who is accountable for the issuing of that VISA.”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member

 

“Specifically, with respect to passports, who is responsible and who is accountable for the period when you were there?”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“The Director”


Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“You, even though you told us what you told us later, I want to be clear because you are saying it is possible for, that you were not at all involve in the process”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“No I was not, and that is the system that is there and it is still there that is the way the process is being done.”

Eamon Courtenay - Senate Select Committee member


“You are taking responsibility for the period you were there and I take it the same applies for VISAS?”


Ruth Meighan – Former Immigration Officer


“I am taking responsibility for the period I was there, Yes.”

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