So, to the Senate hearings itself - it lasted just under an hour, and the Committee chose to do so because they wanted to lay out the groundwork before they started the deep dive into the specifics of her report.
However, there were a few interesting revelations made in today's conversation between the Auditor General and the Senate Select Committee. Here are a few excerpts:


Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"You state in your opening in your executive summary that this audit reflects a small percentage of the total findings because of the volume of the actual findings. Can you give us an idea of how small this percentage is?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"This percentage reflects a 25% of a one year activity because we did two years so it's 25% of one year which would equate to something like 3 months."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"So if you had in fact done a full 100% audit we would have expected to see four time perhaps?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"I'm not sure it would depend on the examination and the findings."

"The presentation was done to the Minister of Finance in accordance with the regulations and it was done that way because of the volume of finding and because of the names we had associated with the findings, meaning names that were directly linked to the Immigration Department. So because the names linked to the Immigration Department was in the report I felt it was fitting in accordance with the regulations to make that presentation to the Minister of Finance."

Aldo Salazar - Chairman of Senate Select Committee
"You said there was an exit interview with the director, CEO and minister. Was the draft report presented to them at that point?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"The discussions of the findings in the draft was discussed."

Aldo Salazar - Chairman of Senate Select Committee
"I'm asking if you presented the draft."

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"To give to them? No."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"It has been said that in fact if I'm not misrepresenting people did not see your report that they did not have a copy of your report. How would you respond to that?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"I would say that is true, they did not receive the final copy."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"So then you submitted an actual physical report to the Minister of Finance. Why did you submit this to him personally? Were you expecting the Minister of Finance to make a review before you published? Can you talk to some about what process you expected after you submitted it to the Minister of Finance?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"Actually the process has 2 prangs. I have the option to actually give a copy or give the copy to the ministry or department. It depends on my findings because as I explain the nature of the findings, the regulations makes provision to me to give it directly to the Minister of Finance who then determines exactly what would be the next step of phase in my submission."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"Did he have an obligation to get back to you to say I'm not in agreement with such and such, can we discuss such and such in a report or did you expect that sort of feedback from the Minister of Finance at that time?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"To be honest this was my first submission and so for me the door would have been open because I don't know what to expect. But clearly if one was made I would have been available."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"But no such feedback came from that office?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"No."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"And then who was responsible for publishing the report?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"Well actually it was only 3 sets of this report was done pending any queries or any questions asked, pending whatever. Only 3 copies was done at that time when the presentation was made. So a copy was given to the Minister of Finance. On another date and I will give you that date a copy was then presented to the CEO. On June 6th I then gave a copy to Hon. Beverly Castillo, CEO Edmond Zuniga and Director of Immigration Diana Locke. They got a copy and I kept the 3rd."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"When you gave them copies of your report, we're you expecting feedback from them?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"Well I said that I was very open, any clarity, anything need to be discussed I'm available."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"Did any such happen?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"No."

Hon. Mark Lizarraga - Business Senator
"So no feedback basically was submitted from anyone or no concern was expressed from anyone after you gave them copies of your report?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"I did not hear from anybody."

The Auditor General Apologizes To The House Speaker

After months of waiting, Belizeans finally got to tune in and see the first day of the Senate hearings on the Immigration and Nationality Department. That happened today, and it was carried live on all the television stations. In today's episode, the Senate Select Committee summoned Dorothy Bradley, the Auditor General herself, and she had to give preliminary testimony on her findings of mass irregular practices within the Ministry of Immigration.  

Her report had been the subject of great interest of those within the public, and great discomfort for the Barrow Government, since a number of Cabinet Ministers were named in the report. So, the stakes were high, and it obliged Dorothy Bradley to give a public accounting of her work for the first time since it became part of the public record.

We'll show you what the Committee wanted her to answer, plus an interview she granted after the hearing. But, first the big news of the day was that the Auditor General took the opportunity to address the Senate, and she corrected the mistake she made in wrongfully naming House Speaker Michael Peyrefitte in her report. Now as you, she has an unresolved lawsuit pending, which Peyrefitte brought against her to do exactly this. Only, last week when the case went to court, there were talks of an out-of-court settlement, and the would have to do exactly what she did today. Here's that moment from today, when she ran the gauntlet and acknowledged the mistake:

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"At page 163 of my report of the special audited dated 31st May 2016 I included a list of table ZK of individuals who signed form 3B as recommenders although they were not lawfully authorised to do so. Among the list of individuals named in table ZK was Mr. Michael Peyrefitte as speaker of the house who signed the application of William Alden Lindo on May 30th 2013 as a 3B category recommender. It has been brought to my attention that section 56 2 of the constitution provides that if any person who is not a member of the house of representative is elected to be speaker of the house he shall by virtue of holding the office of speaker be a member of the house in addition to the 31 members of before said. It is clear that Mr. Peyrefitte's name should not have been included in the list at table ZK and was done so in error. Any inconvenience caused to Mr. Peyrefitte is regretted. Save and except for that error I stand by my report."

As you saw in our story, House Speaker Michael Peyrefitte was sitting right there in the National Assembly closely monitoring when the Auditor General was reading her prepared statement, and as soon, as she had uttered the words he was waiting for, he left the hearing. We did get a chance to catch up with him just outside the door, and we asked him if this is the end of his dispute with Dorothy Bradley. Here's what he had to say:

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Speaker of House of Representative
"It is indeed what I've been asking for from the very beginning and to hear her say it here today and to have it form a part of the record as the chairman said it exonerates me from what's in the report and all I ever wanted was for my name to be cleared because I didn't do anything I was not supposed to do."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir I know it's regrettable to you that it took so long for her to acknowledge what should have been something she should have done weeks ago."

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Speaker of House of Representative
"What she should have done many moons ago was that the minute it came up that I was not authorized to sign she could have called me or she would have written to me and I would have cleared it up right there and then. Of course as well when I wrote to her formally saying I have a complaint about the report in that aspect she could have simply written exactly what she read today and that would have been satisfactory. All I ever wanted was for the record to be cleared."

Reporter
"However she did need to seek legal advice."

Hon. Michael Peyrefitte - Speaker of House of Representative
"Well I don't know how much she needed to do to say. I think the constitution is very clear, a simple reading of it tells you exactly what you need to know and like I said when she first got the information it was incumbent upon her to check before you write that so I think we could have avoided all of this and I think this didn't have to be a topic of the inquiry but what has to be done has to be done."

About an hour later, after she had given her testimony inside, we caught Bradley on the steps of the National Assembly, and she granted a press encounter, taking a few questions before leaving. When we asked her about her correction of the error, she made it plain that she had gone as far as she was comfortable with early that morning. Here's that short exchange.

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"I made a statement saying that I found a part of the regulation that speaks directly to his signing and so I made a statement concerning that."

Daniel Ortiz
"What if there are those in public who feel that such a correction should have been something done a few weeks ago?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"It isn't something I would argue, I simply made a statement."

Last week, when we spoke with Peyrefitte on the topic, he made it plain that if the error was publicly acknowledged, he would end his lawsuit. So, since that has happened, it's most likely only a matter of time before he does so.


Dorothy Bradley Defends Her Immigration Audit

Of course, after the hearings, we made sure to seek out Dorothy Bradley when she was exiting the National Assembly. She had always been a phone call away for clarifications on the audit reports, but for the past few months, she was declining interviews. Fortunately this morning wasn't one more of those refusals, and she took a few questions from us. She shared her thoughts on day one of the Senate Hearings, and it also gave us the opportunity to ask her about those most often repeated lines of defence from the UDP Minister's who we've questioned about being named in her reports. Here's how the conversation went:

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"It went fairly well, my intent is to produce and to say exactly what happened and I have absolutely no problems with that."

Daniel Ortiz
"The trust of the Barrow government's resistance to the findings is that their right to natural justice was not afforded to them to be given an explanation as to why certain things were done. Do you feel that the way you delivered the report violated anyone's natural justice?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"I have not a clue the truth is that out of all this I hope that we will provide with the right resources to guide us properly."

Daniel Ortiz
"You made the assertion that recommendation comes from ministers in the Immigration and Nationality Department and that the regulations do not provide for these sorts of recommendations and if I'm not misquoting you, you draw the conclusion that because it does not exist under the law it might be legal?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"That question I would simply want to ask you how you feel about it because whatever happens in immigration has an effect on you and everybody else for that matter. Do you think that is right? You answer."

Daniel Ortiz
"The reason I ask ma'am is because all those persons named who we had an opportunity who are ministers who have given recommendations and we have an opportunity to question them; they seem to feel entitled just by being an area representative saying they are providing a service for those constituencies and that for you to draw the conclusion that they ought not to be giving recommendations is unfair and erroneous."

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"The truth is I never examined what they are entitled to as an area representative. What I've done is examine what has happened within immigration and as it relates to the regulations and those are my findings."

Daniel Ortiz
"Having done revisions is there anything else you feel that maybe you would have wanted to do differently in hindsight?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"Not really I would simply turn around and ask you to examine what you have found in my report and to ask how relevant it is to you and to the country."

Reporter
"Would you say you learned something from this specific process and what you've had to go through as a result of this?"

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"Oh certainly it simply means we have to even do better than what we are doing. We need to find people who can guide us properly and I mean legally and so yes there is always room for improvement so we made some mistakes, I will not say no but the truth is you will have to check the substance of those reports and then you make that evaluation."

Daniel Ortiz
"Give us your overview on what are the areas of concern that you think Belizeans need to pay close attention to when they review your audit."

Dorothy Bradley - Auditor General
"When you review my audit actually and really my audit will simply outline what we have found and those findings will be in relation to the regulations. If you're not complying with the regulations we will bring that to the forefront. We will say what we find, we do not find people guilty, that is for the law and we're not so we simply do an audit, examining records and we do our findings."

Senate Inquiry: A Brief Pause

So, what's supposed to happen at the next adjournment of the Senate Hearings? That's what we asked Senate Committee Member Eamon Courtenay and Chairman Aldo Salazar, when they exited a post-mortem meeting. They told us that the Committee will hire an attorney, and after that, the Auditor General will be called upon again to give follow-up testimony.

Here's what they had to say:

Hon. Eamon Courtenay - PUP Senator
"I think the auditor general's report is quite comprehensive. We need for her to clarify on the record the procedure she had adopted. The way in which she reached her conclusions, we need for her to indicate to us the evidence that she had, the evidence that she did not get and that's one of the issues we'll be taking up the fact that the Senate will insist on getting those things and maybe having seen that she may want to change her report. We're at a very preliminary stage and I think that the auditor general's report and her evidence is going to be very helpful in terms of the long term, in term of what recommendation the committee will make."

Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee
"I think the first day went well with minor exception. When I said that I was happy that the other two senators could join I wasn't saying that to sound nice, I really mean it personally that I'm glad they could attend. Had they participated from the beginning we would have not have the reason but a bit of a delay. As you see it was an abbreviated session and I think that those matters could have been addressed had there been participation from the beginning but having said that I understand that it's not a personal decision for them."

"We have decided to engage an attorney to assist with the procedure. We had some deliberations in relation to that so we're not able to say an exact date but we're going to engage the services of an attorney and after we've done so we'll then set a date. As you ask for the timeline I think that we want to move ahead as expeditiously as possible. We haven't set a date for the next session."

Daniel Ortiz
"Let's asked those ministers what they did and why they did what they did. When will get to that point?"

Hon. Aldo Salazar - Chairman, Senate Select Committee
"I cannot say exactly when we'll get to that point. The point of the inquiry is not to ask ministers what they did and why they did it. The point of the inquiry is to look at the entire report and to assess what may have gone wrong in the ministry and in the department and who ever needs to be interviewed whether it's a minister, CEO individual we will get to that point. Right now we're in the very preliminary stages of the inquiry."

Daniel Ortiz
"Sir the last time we spoke to you on this topic was when you exited after the Senate had passed the motion to bring the inquiry and you were sceptical of the level of inquiry, the level of transparency and independent matters that would have been conducted. Are you assured based on what you say today and from dialoguing with your fellow members that this process is indeed serving a good purpose?"

Hon. Eamon Courtenay - PUP Senator
"I think the next meeting we have the next few meetings we have we will get the answer to that question. The information that was not provided to the auditor general must be provided to the committee. If we continue to get some type of frustration and stone walling by government operatives then we will know what next step we will take. At this point in time as far as I'm concern I have an open mind, I expect that they will be cooperation, I expect that people will come and attend and answer the questions but let's see."

As soon as the next adjournment date for the Senate Hearings has been announced, we'll tell you what it is.

Channel 7