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From the testimonies given yesterday, it became clear that the 8 visa foils were illegally removed from the Western Border weeks several before it had been discovered missing. The supervising Immigration Officers were responsible for the proper accounting and recording of every Immigration file and document in their possession, therefore, questions were asked on how it is that the visas were not discovered missing much earlier. Leslie responded that the Officers had developed a “trust” system, and admitted that due to this they failed to follow the due process.

 

Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“So just to be clear, she would have actually written the number of foils…”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-02_at_7.57.40_PMVernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“To the last seals for the day, remaining VISA foils for the day, the remaining RCR’s for the day, the remaining visitors permit and so forth and you would have handed over to Mr. Tench on the following day.”

Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Right, but my question is specifically in relation to VISAS, she would be referring to a number as oppose to counting the sheets, the foils that were there, and would she just say 000015?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“I would say that there was trust we had amongst us five supervisors, that we trusted each other and it was based on trust that we just at times didn’t went through the protocols, at times, not all the times, I sometimes I would be in rush to get off the station, I would not physically check any VISA because there were a hundred VISAS in the file.”

 

Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Leslie what I want to know is, you said is Mrs. Morales?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Yes”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“My question is whether she would have counted 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 50, 51, 52…?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“She must do that.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“So, why then would she not have picked up at that stage because according to Mr. Tench the eight were missing from a month before that?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Well, Senator I really don’t know maybe she is a bad counter, maybe she can’t count, am sorry I withdraw back Chairman am sorry.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Hold on, so the person who worked on the 24th, 23rd, 22nd…?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“We all guilty of that”


Senator Dr. Carla Barnette – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“So none of you were really counting?”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“That suggests to me that nobody was really counting?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Well, what happen is I think we were not doing the proper handing over.”

The Committee also wanted more answers about the decision to issue transit permits to persons using the same Visa serial numbers of the visas that had disappeared into thin year. Yesterday, Officer Mark Tench said it was a measure taken to minimise suspicion of the wrongdoing committed in order to give them time to investigate. Officer Leslie’s explanation followed the same lines, and perhaps given his seniority the Committee members chastised him for his involvement.


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select committee


“But when you decide to do something which is contrary to what, I’ve seen the regulations for the, how you’ll fix the VISA foil, when you do something like that which is contrary to your procedure and all of you agreed to it that is where I have a problem with it because there was no need to do that.”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“I understand Chairman, well basically we had not established as yet what happened to the VISAS remember, we don’t know if there was a prank maybe somebody was just messing around with us we weren’t sure what happened to them.”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“From our point of view, you would accept in hindsight that that decision was wrong?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“Which decision Sir?”


Senator Eamon Courtney – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“The decision to take the hundred dollars, put on the application form the number for the missing VISA and then stamp in the passport, the wet stamp for in transit so as to give the impression that there is no loss of revenue and that these VISAS were actually issued to the persons in whose passport the stamp appeared?”


Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“This was all ventilated exactly a year ago in front of all the members of the public service commission which is the legal and the highest authority of the public service, we ventilated all these issues to them and they found out no problem with that we were completely exonerated for that.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“But only that you didn’t answer the question, the question was whether in hindsight you feel that it was wrong?”

 

Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“It wasn’t illegal what we did because it is more of an administrative issue, it was nothing illegal because first of all we compiles the application forms, we issued a genuine government RCR and we placed the stamps in there, well what am saying is that, administratively is wasn’t too correct .”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Am not sure that it wasn’t illegal because what you are saying is that you are purporting to issue a VISA foil bearing a certain number which you never issued which you knew to be false, you were issuing a number on a VISA application pretending is the only word that comes to my mind as if that foil was affixed to that VISA and it wasn’t.”

 

Vernon Lesley – Former Senior Immigration Officer Western Border


“But nevertheless, Chairman you might be right, you might be.”


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