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So how did Eric Chang get caught up in this business venture and controversy that followed? He had presented Tillett to friends who had expressed interest in visas. When the visa troubles surfaced, Chang also attended a meeting between Tillett and Immigration officials in which they were asking questions. But the versions of the role Chang played vary depending on who you talk to. Immigration Official Mark Tench testified that Chang was a key player, but today it was Chang’s turn to speak up, and as you would expect, he claimed that he was an innocent by-stander.

 

Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Special Senate Select Committee


“With that background I want to start with the first question, is this statement accurate as far as it describes your involvement?”


Screen_Shot_2017-03-08_at_8.20.48_PMEric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“No its not accurate at all, at all, at all, let’s start with Mr. Middleton, I don’t know who is Mr. Middleton, at no time in my life ever meet with Mr. Middleton so I don’t know where this report say me and Mr. Middleton took the VISA to me, I don’t know who is Mr. Middleton, I never ever did meet Mr. Middleton in my life, secondly it says that me and Mr. Tillette wrote a statement to confirm the transaction, I don’t know what statement and what transaction he is talking about because as far as I am concern I remember just because I was working at the City Council I was with Patrick for whatever reason I don’t remember Mr. Tillette that day and I wasn’t even aware of …”


Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Special Senate Select Committee


“What day are you talking about the day at the meeting at the Calypso?”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“Yes, correct I was with Mr. Tillette day I don’t even know who Mr. Tillette was going to meet.”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“Mr. Tillette told me somebody called him want me to assist him so I went along and I realize it was three Immigration officers and I think pretty much Mr. Tillette was complaining to the Immigration officer what transpired with whatever I mean I was no part of it…I just don’t remember what exactly…I don’t have to explain to you that if I am not part of it I was just a company sometimes just people just play with the phone…whatever…whatever… I mean…I just don’t recall whatever exact conversation that day.”


Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Special Senate Select Committee


“So for Mr. Mark Tench to suggest that you were in the purchase of VISAS as he did in my mind for him to suggest that you were involved in the purchase of VISAS for five thousand dollars per VISA, is that out rightly false, is that a lie?”

 

Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“That’s definitely a lie, definitely.”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“The truth of the matter is, the only involvement and I am ever in part of this it was one occasion I was at home and one of my Chinese friends was along with me and Mr. Tillette is a friend of mine and he came by my house after work so we met we talked, I introduced my friend to Mr. Tillette and my friends said that he has a family that is interested to come to Belize and he is asking me if anybody could assist in that matter, I said I don’t know anybody and Mr. Tillette was there and he said he might know one of his friend that could help him apply legitimately therefore that was it and that was the only involvement that I have in this so called VISA scandal, is just I introduce my friend to Mr. Tillette that was it, I never met this Mr. Middleton, I never went to Belmopan to visit officer George Reynolds, if I did anything illegal from the get go, from the matter get go I was now involved in no part, why would I go meet an immigration officer and tell the immigration officer I involve in all of this, I am a politician and a public figure, if  do something wrong why should I show my appearance to the investigator officer okay listen I am part of this I’ll get it for my friend and this and that, that doesn’t make any sense if am part of this as a politician and public figure I would hide as far as I could, I would run why would I go and meet the guy and sit down with the guy and according to what I hear from the last hearing Mr. Tench didn’t even know I was going in there, he didn’t even invited me, why should I appear, this don’t make any sense at all, if I am involve why should I go and show up.”


According to Chang he was simply attempting to assist members of the Chinese community.


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“I wouldn’t be able to just come and say Mr. Chang and we would speak and I would say well you Mr. Chang I need some VISAS can you help me, I would have to know that you would be able to do that for me.”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“You see Senator, I was a public servant, I worked at the City Council so perhaps you don’t know often time the Chinese community when they met any problems or they have any doubt or a questions they’ll approach me and ask me if I can assist and what I do most of the time is if I could assist them or if there is somebody I think could resolve their issues or problems as a public servant I refer them to somebody who could possible assist them but in this very case instant it just so happen that it was on my house and he asked me hey Eric do you know anybody who could help me my family want to come to Belize, a family of two need a VISA to come to Belize do you know anybody to help me, Mr. Tillette so happen he was there and he said perhaps  he knows someone that could assist that was it for that and afterwards I was no part of that until that same very day I was Mr. Tillette and the Immigration office came and interview him and that was it, that was only my involvement I don’t understand how I end up today in a;; this to me this is just…I guess I need to stop help people.”


Senator Elena Smith – Member Special Senate Select Committee


“Are you suggesting Mr. Chang that persons are just using your name for no reason at all?”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“I think you can say that, because they think that my name perhaps is good and they can use me as a scapegoat.””

 

Aldo Salazar, Chairman, Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Tench, when he gave testimony he did not distinguish between you and Mr. Tillette so as to say that you had no knowledge or suggest that you had no knowledge about the transaction, when he gave his testimony he spoke of you jointly as if both of you were aware, that is the impression that I got, I am not speaking for any of the other members, the impression I got was that he said that the indication coming from you and Mr. Tillette was that you had paid five thousand dollars per VISA.”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“Mr. Chairman the only thing I will tell you that is not true no part of the conversation and I don’t know where that five thousand dollars coming from, I wasn’t even aware there was a meeting, I just went there.”


Mark Lizarraga - Member, Senate Select Committee


“So the statement made earlier by individuals in this Senate under oath suggesting that you in fact wanted to get twenty VISAS but you were only given twelve by the minister and you and you proceeded to secure the others in another fashion, you are saying that is a lie because obviously you never been involved?”


Eric Chang - Former UDP Deputy Mayor


“Obviously that is a lie, if I could ask a minister for a VISA why I would introduce my friend to Patrick, if I can do that, I never ever did apply or acquire any VISA for anybody, that is absolutely lie, lie, and lie.”

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