Police briefed on FBI investigation, review underway

Minister of National Security Marvin Dames addressed the media outside Cabinet Tuesday. (Photo: Royston Jones Jr.)

ACP Samuel Butler led team to Washington, D.C.

 

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has briefed a team of investigators from the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) and attorneys from the Office of the Attorney General on its two-year probe into an alleged visa scam in The Bahamas, Minister of National Security Marvin Dames confirmed Monday.

An affidavit filed in Washington, D.C., by FBI Special Agent Kevin Gounaud detailed the FBI’s two-year probe into the alleged visa scam, which implicated senior immigration officials.

The investigation began in October 2016.

According to Dames, Assistant Commissioner Samuel Butler led the team of Bahamian investigators to D.C last Monday to meet with the FBI.

That team returned on Saturday.

Dames said authorities were reviewing the FBI’s findings.

He was unable to say whether there was any evidence at this stage that could lead to arrests.

“I’m unable to say whether their trip was a success or not,” Dames told Eyewitness News.

“That’s totally in the hands of police.

“They will determine what they got; and whether what they got at this point would be able to… help them move this investigation forward.

“This is early yet, so I don’t want to be premature in commenting on where the investigation is.”

Asked whether Butler will head the RBPF’s investigation, Dames said while that decision will be made by the police commissioner, Butler is a “seasoned investigator”.

“He is [a] very competent investigator,” the minister said.

“The commissioner — this is nothing new — makes determinations from time to time in respect to certain matters, as to who takes the lead and how it proceeds.

“But I know Assistant Commissioner Butler was the team leader.

“He’s a seasoned investigator, [but] like I said those are the calls of the commissioner of police.”

In his affidavit, Gounaud outlines conversations between undercover FBI informants and Edward Israel Saintil, a foreign national living in The Bahamas who the FBI identified as the alleged lead conspirator in the matter.

According to Gounaud, Saintil claimed in those conversations that he could help obtain work permits and facilitate illegal entry into the United States.

The special agent also alleged in the document that Saintil claimed he had relationships with top immigration officials, including former Director of Immigration William Pratt.

Pratt has denied any wrongdoing and said he will seek legal redress.

Asked if the nature of the allegations and the implications on immigration officials warrant his oversight or involvement, Dames said, “Well no. The matter has been turned over to police and the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and it’s their job to investigate and determine whether laws have been broken or not.

“They will work with United States federal agencies and there will obviously be information sharing, and some determination will be made at some point.

“I am certain that the commissioner and his good office will certainly keep us all up to date with respect to where they are in terms of this matter.”

Dames maintained that if any law has been broken police will fulfill their mandate.

He acknowledged the national interest in investigating the matter promptly.

“When you see matters like this, especially where you have not only The Bahamas, but other countries involved, yes, all of us would like to see the matter brought to a closure as quickly as possible,” Dames said.

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