Former Belizean National Security Minister John Saldivar has denied all corruption allegations against him as he responded to the United States Secretary of State’s decision to place travel sanctions on him and his immediate family.
In a Facebook post, Saldivar said the allegations that he was involved in “significant corruption” during his time as a minister are “baseless and malicious”.
The State Department alleged Saldivar “accepted bribes for the improper acquisition of Belizean immigration documents and interfered in public processes for his personal benefit during his tenure as a government official”.
But, Saldivar said: “I am at a loss as to why the State Department would want to target me and my family and without providing absolutely any evidence to explain their conclusion. No due process has been observed, no contact has been made with me, no evidence has been provided to me, but the mighty United States has chosen to impugn my character and malign my reputation.”
In a subsequent Facebook post, Saldivar said the allegations against him are based on claims made by a car dealer, who was seeking a US visa at the embassy inBelmopan.
Saldivar wrote that he had spoken with then Prime Minister Dean Barrow on the matter.
“The PM had called me into his office to tell me that the US Embassy had reported to him that a certain car dealer, who claimed to be in my inner circle, had gone to the Embassy in search of a visa, and because the interviewer apparently knew of his acquaintance with me, he asked questions about me,” he said.
“This car dealer, as the embassy official recounted to the PM, proceeded to make fantastic claims about my involvement in corruption at the Immigration Department… He had hoped that this fantastic story would earn him a visa. I immediately and categorically denied and dismissed the allegations as the baseless product of an imaginative mind desperate for a visa. I never knew that this big lie would come back to haunt me and I did not consider anything until now that it has come back to my memory while searching for answers.”
He continued: “I know for sure I have not been involved in any bribery or corruption at immigration and there is no evidence that the US State Department can produce to say otherwise. But, I recall now that they do have this fantastic story from a car salesman wanting a visa. It’s the only thing I can think about and it would mean that the actions of the State Department are based on a preposterous lie. If this is the case as I suspect it is then the State Department will never be able to produce any evidence against me.”
Saldivar believes the sanctions are an attempt by the US to meddle in Belizean politics since he had planned to put himself up for consideration as the United Democratic Party’s (UDP) candidate in the general election at the party’s convention.
The embattled politician said he plans to seek legal advice on what can be done to clear his name.