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    Wednesday, 17 May 2017 03:50
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Penner’s opening statement was clearly meant to dictate what should or should not be on the table for questioning and discussion during his testimony. In playing lawyer and quoting legal jargons, Penner indicated specifically that the matter of his involvement in the facilitation of Won Hong Kim’s fraudulent nationality and passport had been tried before a Court and since he was, according to him, acquitted; he could not be questioned on it. But Chairman Aldo Salazar and Senator Eamon Courtenay were still able to get Penner to discuss certain matters outside the immigration facilitation issue, and there is where Penner made one more crucial admission that he has never met Won Hong Kim in Belize, even though he has publicly stated that he took his friend Mr. Kim to the passport office himself.


Screen_Shot_2017-05-11_at_8.01.52_PMElvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“His name was Won Hong Kim but better known to me and friends of his as Mr. Kim.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Kim…How and when did you meet Mr. Kim?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Again that is a question that I will not answer…”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Penner can you tell the Committee why you are not answering the question?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I made my statement and my reasons why in my opening statement, you can refer to that and like I’ve said if that is not sufficient for you to excuse me not to answer that question then the Senate has the full right to do and take whatever action you agree necessary to take.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“But you are confirming to this Committee that this gentleman known as Mr. Kim was known to you?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Yes”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“You said and his friends, who else are you referring to?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Am not going to answer that question in regards to Mr. Kim...”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Why are you not answering?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Refer to my opening statement.”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“I don’t understand that answer because you are talking about a privilege against self-incrimination.”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I already said that I am not concern about your interpretation of the laws and privileges I don’t have, I am relying on the legal advice I got…”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Which is what?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Which is exactly what I read in the opening statement”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“Just tell me now again because I don’t recall, because I don’t see how you been able to say, to identify the friends of Kim has anything to do with you or any of what you read this morning.”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“It has to do with Mr. Kim…”


Aldo Salazar – Chairman Special Senate Select Committee


“But it doesn’t …the statement that you read this morning is saying that you area afforded certain protection but saying who Mr. Kim’s friends are, there is no risk any at all…”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I don’t know the name of Mr. Kim’s friends whenever we had meetings in the past, am just saying that he was referred to by the persons in that meeting and me as Mr. Kim.”


Screen_Shot_2017-05-11_at_8.02.06_PMSenator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“When was the last time that you met or was with the company of Mr. Kim?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Like I said I don’t recall exact dates.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Who introduce you to Mr. Kim?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I was a business person from Taiwan I don’t recall the name of that person”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Well, am asking you to try to recollect how did it come about?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“It was a business trip where we went to meet with businessmen and…”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Who is we?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“It was a business trip that we made on behalf of the company.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Who is we?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“It was myself and if I recall correctly my cousin Peter Koop although he was not present on that meeting I went myself and it was simply a meeting where I got to understand that there were certain individuals that had interest in investing in Belize and that interest me as well for the better of the country ad that is why I attended the meeting.”

 

Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“And at that meeting did Mr. Kim was present?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Yes”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Did you and Mr. Kim had any discussion about Belizean Nationality, VISA anything at all to the Immigration?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“No”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“As a result of that what business interest Mr. Kim expressed if any?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“It was simply that he had an interest in making investments in Belize?”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“In what?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“The main discussion would have been perhaps real estate.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Did Mr. Kim ever come to Belize?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I don’t know that…”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“You ever met Mr. Kim in Belize?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“No, I have not”


Having made this admission, Penner realized that he had made a grave confession and went totally mum on questions on Won Hong Kim.


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Mr. Penner, I just want to be very clear you will agree with me that since you have never met Mr. Kim in Belize clearly you did not take him or accompany him to the passport office, is that correct?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Am not going to answer any more questions in regards to Mr. Kim…”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Why is that?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“I read the statement this morning and I tried in my best way possible to explain why not.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“Are you prepared to agree the obvious that if you have never met him in Belize he did not accompany you to the Immigration and Nationality Department?”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Again, I will not answer any questions with regards to Mr. Kim.”


Senator Eamon Courtenay - Member, Special Senate Select Committee


“For the same reason that you give…”


Elvin Penner – Former Minister of Immigration and Nationality


“Yes”


Penner’s reference to being acquitted by trial has to with the private prosecution started by COLA and attorney Kareem Musa which was thrown out at the Magistrate’s Court level for lack of evidence. The decision was later upheld in the Supreme Court. But that result was largely due to what seemed to be a blanket cover up of the scandalous affairs.

 

COLA’s requesting files and evidence from the Immigration Department, the Director of Prosecution and even the Auditor General, went unheard and that meant that COLA was unable to access critical information which would have likely led to a much different result for Penner.

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