Former Minister of National Security, Dwyer Astaphan, is calling on the authorities in Basseterre to investigate reports of alleged corruption in the granting of visa, visa extension and work permits in the Ministry of National Security.
Speaking on his weekly radio programme “The Operating Room” on WINNFM, Astaphan told listeners that a foreigner who is married to a citizen and who has a child who lives overseas came to see him.
“She said she applied for a visa for her child and it was denied. She said what hurt her most in addition to not being able to be with her child is the fact that some people pay somebody EC$500 or EC$1,000 and they get visas or visas extensions. Some people she told me go to the Ministry of National Security. The technocrats in the office assess their applications. The applications go the permanent secretary and the applications are denied. A phone call is made and the persons who are denied re-appears at the office with the money to pay for the visa or the visa extension and they get it by a phone call,” said Astaphan.
“If there is any truth to the lady’s story, then some corruption is going on and the corruption is coming from who is giving the orders for the person to return,” said Astaphan who added that the “alleged corruption has been corroborated by two other sources who have confirmed what the lady had told me.”
“From three sources, there are individuals who are in the business of helping foreigners get work permits, get visas and visa extensions even when they are denied by the Ministry of National Security,” said Astaphan who indicated that the names of the culprits who are involved in the racket have been provided, but he would not disclose them.
“I am calling on the authorities to carry out an investigation to ascertain whether it is true or not. If it is not true, then the three sources that I thought were accurate were not accurate. I am calling on the highest level of decision makers in the country to investigate this complaint,” Astaphan said.
He said if the alleged corruption is confirmed “appropriate action, even if it means dismissing somebody from whatever office that person or somebody is in, should be taken.”
“It is high time people in positions of responsibility who are involved in grossly reckless practices, corrupt practices or bypassing the normal processes get put in their places,” he said.
Astaphan reiterated that the names of the persons who make the calls have no legal authority to do so, but they have influence and people in the public service are afraid to disobey individuals who give them orders although the givers of the orders have absolutely no legal or moral authority to give those orders.