Vincy passport racket foiled
November 26, 2004
Vincy passport racket foiled

Police have arrested a Guyanese national, Leon Griffith, 21, for passport fraud. And at least one more person is expected to be arrested soon as investigations continue. {{more}}

Griffith’s arrest is a breakthrough in investigations into a passport and birth certificate racket which have put at least one police officer under the microscope and has cast suspicion over the spate of applications for Vincentian passports, claimed by some holders to have been lost or destroyed.

Griffith, who came here in July last year, is alleged to have acquired a birth certificate in the name Jason Williams, the brother of police constable Curtis Williams, who is presently facing abduction and theft charges.

Griffith was charged with using a Form A application with the intent “to induce the Immigration Authorities to accept it as genuine”, in an attempt to get a St. Vincent and the Grenadines passport.

A woman is said to have assisted in the process by taking the document to a Justice of the Peace to be signed.

When Griffith appeared before the Serious Offences Court Monday he was remanded in custody pending preliminary inquiries scheduled to begin on December 15.

Griffith was supposed to have left the country since last year. However he never did and the offences were committed on November 16 this year.

Griffith is not the only foreigner whose attempt to acquire a Vincentian passport has been thwarted recently. A police officer earlier this year reportedly assisted a Jamaican national in an attempt to get a St. Vincent and the Grenadines passport. The Jamaican was able to acquire a birth certificate in someone’s name, but his attempt to get the passport was foiled. He was detained here while a clerk was transferred from the Registry.

The Jamaican has not been prosecuted because the complainant in the matter has refused to give evidence. As a result, no action has yet been taken against the policeman.

It is understood that quite a number of applications for passport replacement are being made to the Immigration Department while St. Vincent and the Grenadines passports are being sold for US$1,000 and more on the black market.

Meanwhile, authorities are moving to tighten the process of acquiring birth certificates from the Registry.

Searchlight has learnt that a new system will soon be in place to lift the ease with which a person was able to get a birth certificate without proper identification.