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Penner “Can’t Recall”
posted (May 17, 2017)

So, as you saw, Senator Courtenay was determined to ask his questions about Citizen Kim, and he did. The line of questioning started with Elvin Penner refusing to answer, and later on, his answers changed with him asserting that he could not recall. 

Here's how that back and forth went:

Hon. Eamon Courtenay - PUP Senator
"The evidence before this committee is that you took or you went along with whichever way it is, an Asian gentleman in a black suit to the immigration department, do you recall in September 2013 going to the immigration department with an Asian gentleman in a black suit?"

Elvin Penner - Former Immigration Minister
"At this point in time I will invoke my right under the laws of Belize to remain silent."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Mr. Penner why are you refusing to answer that question?"

Elvin Penner
"Because I believe I have the right to do so."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Mr. Penner do you know Omar Phillips?"

Elvin Penner
"I would only know him through the fact that his name has been mentioned in the report."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"You do not recall that he worked at immigration department when you were minister of state?"

Elvin Penner
"No I do not recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Do you recall ever having contact with him at the immigration department work wise?"

Elvin Penner
"No I do not recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"He has testified before this committee that you came along with an Asian gentleman wearing a black suit in September 2013. Is that testimony of Mr. Phillips true or false?"

Elvin Penner
"That is his testimony so I would not able to say if it is true or false because that is the testimony that he made."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Well did you go in September 2013 with an Asian gentleman wearing a black suit to the immigration department?"

Elvin Penner
"Again I invoke my rights under the laws of Belize to remain silent."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Mr. Erwin Robinson immigration officer, you knew him when you were a minister?"

Elvin Penner
"No I did not."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"He testified that a gentleman came to the immigration department and he took a picture of him who was supposed to be Wong Hong Kim. My question to you is are you aware that someone being an Asian person was taken to the immigration department purporting to be Wong Hong Kim for the purpose of his picture being taken by Mr. Robinson."

Elvin Penner
"No I was not aware of that."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"No you are not aware of that. Do you know Gordon Wade?"

Elvin Penner
"Yes I do."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Do you recall Mr. Wade - you going to Mr. Wade's office at the immigration department and inquirying about the file relating to Wong Hong Kim?"

Elvin Penner
"Again I will invoke my rights under the laws of Belize to remain silent."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Mr. Wade indicated that he informed you that the application was incomplete of Wong Hong Kim and you asked for the file so that you would take it to director Maria Marin. Do you recall that?"

Elvin Penner
"I do not recall that."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Do you recall a conversation with Mr. Wade at all about the Wong Hong Kim file?"

Elvin Penner
"I don't recall that."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Would Mr. Wade's evidence, would his evidence be truthful about that conversation he had with you?"

Elvin Penner
"Like I'm saying I do not recall that conversation so I could not say."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Do you recall receiving the file and taking it to director Maria Marin?"

Elvin Penner
"No I don't recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Have you ever been in possession of the application form and the file for Wong Hong Kim?"

Elvin Penner
"I was actually had to been because I signed that nationality certificate."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Right, do you recall having possession of the application form prior to his nationality being granted?"

Elvin Penner
"As far as I can recall I never did had possession of that specific file prior to it have been brought to me for signature."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"For the purposes of the certificate?"

Elvin Penner
"That's right."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"So anybody who said that prior to that, that it was given to you would be lying?"

Elvin Penner
"As far as I can recall yes."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Did you at all participate in facilitating the grant of nationality or a passport to that gentleman?"

Elvin Penner
"In terms of the passport yes I signed the recommendation form."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"And nationality?"

Elvin Penner
"I signed the nationality certificate."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Prior to that those two official documents, were you involved in anyway facilitating processing, arranging for the application form to be processed - the picture or any data to be captured?"

Elvin Penner
"Not that I can recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"But it is possible?"

Elvin Penner
"I would not know that because I don't recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Can you read paragraph 7.15, this is referring to an interview with Ms. Ady Pacheco."

Elvin Penner
"She answered yes she received his application said that application was brought in by Mr. Penner."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"Would that be correct?"

Elvin Penner
"I don't recall."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"They were interviewing Mr. Wade and Ms. Pacheco and both of them essentially and if you disagree with it and want to verify it please do so but essentially they were saying that the application was brought in by you for Wong Hong Kim, you visited Mr. Wade, Mr. Wade indicated that it was incomplete. You spoke with Ms. Pacheco, you followed Ms. Pacheco into Mr. Wade's office and you said listen you will take the file to the director and have it dealt with at that level. I am simply drawing to your attention the specific parts in the report to jog your memory."

Elvin Penner
"I appreciate that."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"And the question basically is do you not recall any of this? You are not able to say to us whether or not these persons are telling the truth or not?"

Elvin Penner
"I will not be able to say that."

Hon. Eamon Courtenay
"So you recall ever going to the nationality department with Wong Hong Kim with who you say you know?"

Elvin Penner
"No I don't recall."

Hon. Elena Smith - Labour Senator
"You've said to us you confirmed that you've never met him in Belize. To your knowledge was he ever in Belize?"

Elvin Penner
"Not to my knowledge."

Hon. Elena Smith
"So again I'll go back to the question so should we assume that it was not Mr. Wong Hong Kim who went to the department to apply for a passport?"

Elvin Penner
"I don't think we need to assume, I think it's obvious that it was not."

Hon. Elena Smith
"I just wanted to get the answer clear."

We'll have more from today's Senate Hearings in which you'll hear Penner take questions on the UDP rush before the 2012 General Elections to get persons naturalized as Belizeans.

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