Former Director of Immigration William Pratt has denied any involvement of a work permit scheme that facilitated an alleged fraud visa ring as outlined in court documents for a U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation report.
In a statement released Monday, Pratt said it has been brought to his attention that by implication and calling his name directly, a man before the criminal courts had made an allegation of impropriety against him in an untested affidavit.
The affidavit, he said, is replete with hearsay and speaks of impropriety of his work in public office as the Director of Immigration, but Pratt noted in the issued statement that he does not know the individual.
“I have never sold or received bribes for any permits or anything else in my five years as Director. I have never met Edward Israel Saintil. I never knew what he looked like until a photo produced to me on line purporting to be him was shown to me.”
Pratt said that he stands by the integrity of any decision that he made with regard to work permits or immigration applications.
The applications, he said, are considered based on information that is received which must justify the request.
“It is unjust to permit this kind of loose, untested allegation to come into the public domain which sullies my character and integrity without any opportunity to refute it,” Pratt explained.
“The damage has been done and now it is left for me to use my personal resources to seek redress by having to prove a negative. I am appalled. I denounce this and reject it. I will seek whatever legal means are available to me.”
Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Senator Fred Mitchell who served as Immigration Minister while Pratt was director also denied knowledge of any impropriety. He called on government to remedy the situation and demanded an explanation from U.S. officials.
“Even if you are not interested in protecting the names of these individuals, these public servants, it’s the government of the Bahamas whose reputation is at stake,” Mitchell said. “They must demand what are the facts behind this. Those names should have been redacted.”
Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis was also questioned on these allegations yesterday, but he refused to respond.