A senior adviser to Senate President Chea Sim defended Lauryn Galindo on Tuesday, saying the embattled adoption facilitator had done nothing wrong.
“I don’t think she has done anything wrong. She has done a lot of good work for the Cambodian children,” said Kunthea Borei, chief of Chea Sim’s Cabinet. “She is a good person in my opinion…. What she has done is try to help the Cambodian people.”
Galindo, who has united scores of Cambodian babies with adoptive parents in the US, is accused of paying Cambodian mothers as little as $100 for their children and falsely representing infants as orphans on US visa forms.
The 52-year-old former hula dancer claims close ties to several high-ranking officials, including Chea Sim, whom she once said was “like a father to me.”
Speaking by telephone, Kunthea Borei said she believes Galindo is innocent. “The money went to the Cambodian children, not to her pockets,” she said.
Galindo in May was indicted on charges of visa fraud and conspiracy to commit visa fraud in the US state of Washington. She is in her native US state of Hawaii and has not been arrested, though court documents label her a fugitive.
Her sister and business partner in Seattle International Adoptions, Lynn Devin, 50, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit visa fraud last week. The indictment said Devin and Galindo charged adoptive parents an average of $10,500 to process an adoption, though there are no formal adoption fees in Cambodia.
Galindo maintained her innocence and appealed to former clients for public support in an e-mail circulated last week.
“I am dismayed that Lynn would plead ‘guilty’ when there was no crime committed!” the e-mail states. Reached by e-mail this week, Galindo declined comment through a media relations firm.
Galindo has said that much of the adoption fees went to fund orphanages in Cambodia which she helped operate.
Amid reports of baby-buying, the US suspended adoptions from Cambodia in December 2001 and called for a transparent, accountable adoption process to be put in place.