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Commissioner of Police calls John Saldivar’s bluff – says active investigation underway on activities with Coast Guard boat

Posted: Tuesday, November 29, 2022. 10:17 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: During his lengthy defense of his character and reputation last week Thursday, former Minister of National Security John Saldivar admitted to “an error of judgment” in using a boat that the United States Government gifted to the Belize Coast Guard for personal trips, including taking Lev Dermen and others out on a trip to Hunting Caye in the Sapodilla Range.

Dermen, still awaiting sentencing in relation to his conviction for defrauding the U.S. government, gave Saldivar several donations ahead of the 2015 general election campaign under the guise of campaign financing, which is not currently legislated in Belize. Saldivar said he used the money to buy sports equipment, but he also told Jacob Kingston, who testified against Dermen at trial, that he was assisting other standard bearers for the United Democratic Party.

Saldivar said that none of what he did, in his view, amounted to criminality or corruption and that the police cannot even contemplate investigating him for any misuse of the boat since he gave the authority for its use as the authorized minister: “I don’t see how in the world he can try to turn that into a criminal case. There is absolutely no way that he can turn that into a criminal case, because I was the minister responsible and I had the authority to do what I did.”

But Commissioner of Police Chester Williams told reporters on Monday that police have already begun an investigation against Saldivar.

Said Williams, “I am beyond contemplating already because the investigation has commenced. So, to say that I can’t contemplate is already not true because I’m beyond that. Yes, he made mention that it might have been and at this time, in hindsight, an administrative oversight, but it is the same with Mr [Rene] Montero. He was the minister and he gave the permission for the equipment to be used, and despite that, he was still charged. Like I said before, I’m not going to be the [arbiter] of that. We’re just going to do the investigation and forward the file to the DPP and if she believes that there is sufficient evidence then she’ll give the directive. If she believes that there is not sufficient, then the same.”

Previously, Williams told KREM News that the question to be answered, with the assistance of the Coast Guard, is “Can it be said that the actions of Mister Saldivar in utilizing the Coast Guard vessel to take out his friends can amount to [using Government assets for his personal gain]? Certainly, that’s a question where the answer can be yes.” If the business conducted aboard the boat is proven to be personal rather than for Government, then a case can be made.

As to the status of previous investigations against Saldivar, the police found nothing in the evidence obtained from the Utah District Court in the Dermen trial to establish that a crime had been committed, on the advice of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


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