PM Settled with Ashcroft Instead of Waiting for the CCJ to Rule

By
Updated: July 6, 2016

As you may or may not know, Prime Minister Dean Barrow did not wait for the final ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice when it comes to the Belize Telemedia Arbitration Award matter.  He resorted to meeting with Lord Michael Ashcroft overseas and they both came to a settlement.  But had the Government waited on the CCJ’s ruling what were the possible outcomes compared to the settlement made.  The media asked Senator Eamon Courtenay to respond.

EAMON COURTENAY

“Well the CCJ could have done one of two things, it could have said that the nationalization is unlawful or it could say that the nationalization is lawful. If it held that the nationalization was unlawful the question would then arise as to whether it would order the return of the shares or it would have said so much time has passed we think the better remedy is damages in the value. If it held that the nationalization was lawful then of course they had to end up paying money. So at the end of the day it was a question of money I believe. What I don’t understand is why it is that if that is so it took seven years for us to reach this point when we all knew from the beginning that if you take this property you have to take compensation because let’s remember the fundamental argument of the former property owners was the quantum and the law that was passed to determine the quantum they were saying that was unfair to us let us do it by arbitration and that is where we ended up.”

Senator Courtenay went on to point out that the Prime Minister had spoken several times of not wanting to go to arbitration to determine the value back in 2009 but in 2015 he still ended up giving in after spending millions on legal costs.

EAMON COURTENAY

“Again I say why is it that what Mr.Barrow agreed in Miami in September 2015 he could not have agreed way back in 2009. Owners of Telemedia were insisting that they wanted to go to arbitration to determine the value of the shares that is what they were arguing, “We want to go to arbitration to determine the value.” That could have been in 2009, 2010 you remember they amended the law to say that if you advise, participate do anything in relation to an arbitration you would be guilty of contempt. They got injunctions that had to go all the way to the CCJ to stop the arbitration eventually the CCJ said that we could not stop the people from going to arbitration. The point is that the very thing that the government fought all against having arbitrators determine the value is exactly what Mr.Barrow agreed to in 2015 in Miami. We spent millions upon millions of dollars, we accrued hundreds of millions of dollars and we ended up exactly where we should have been in the beginning.”

One of the key points brought out by the opposition last week was that the Barrow administration had racked up a high debt in the BTL Arbitration issue when the company itself is not worth that amount.  Prime Minister defense, however, has been, quote, “sovereign calculations cannot simply ever be measured in dollars and cents terms”.  End of quote.