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Visa Scam ‘Mr Fix-It’ Jailed For Five Months

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Mr Fix-It at the centre of a US visa scam involving The Bahamas Immigration Department has been jailed for five months by a federal court. 

Edward Israel Santil pleaded guilty to one count of encouraging and including an alien to come to the United States for the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain.

He was convicted last year after an explosive FBI undercover operation into US visa fraud in The Bahamas that spanned two years.

US Attorney Jessie Liu accused Saintil of operating a “one-stop shop for immigration fraud”.

Audio recordings obtained from a forensic audit of Saintil’s cell phone, revealed more than six hours of audio recordings between Haitian-Bahamian Edward Israel Saintil and an unnamed immigration officer discussing bribery payments made to senior officials to secure permit approvals. 

The bribes ranged from $400 to $2,500.

Commissioner of Police Anthony Ferguson told The Tribune last month police were still reviewing the FBI’s information.

The team of investigators from the Royal Bahamas Police Force and an attorney from the Department of Public Prosecutions were reportedly briefed on the findings of the undercover investigation in November.

Saintil was arrested in late September after the FBI allegedly recorded conversations between him and paid informants over several months, in which he boasted of close relationships with both current and former top Department of Immigration officials and also claimed a capacity to obtain fraudulent bank statements to support US visa applications.

He told the lead FBI informant it would cost $11,000 to obtain Bahamian work permits for two Haitian nationals: $1,500 to get a fake Bahamian employer; $2,500 for the Department of Immigration official to approve the application; and another $1,500 for other expenses like application fees, labour certificate, police and medical records, and his profit.

Saintil settled on $10,500 to provide the work permits, and bank letters indicating the Haitian nationals had Bahamian bank accounts.

As part of his plea deal, Santil consented to a forfeiture order for a Samsung Galaxy S8 and any property derived from or traceable to the proceeds obtained directly or indirectly from the offense.

A forfeiture money judgement for $7,100 has been entered, and the $1,329.80 in cash that was seized at the time of his arrest will be credited towards the judgment.

He will be deported to the Bahamas after time served.

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