Senior Counsel calls out Prime Minister over comments on arbitration ruling

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Updated: January 19, 2017

Last Friday, Prime Minister Dean Barrow threatened economic war against Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited and Belize Social Development Limited if the companies attempted to collect the fifty million dollars arbitration award.  Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay commented on the situation.

 Eamon Courtenay – Senior Counsel

“I think the big picture here is whether or not Belize, as a country obeys the rule of law. The Prime Minister keeps saying that he is not going to do this or he is not going to do that and then courts rule against him. Belize nor the Prime Minister is above the rule of law and it is a very expensive lesson that the Prime Minister is putting this country through; millions upon millions are being spent on legal fees, interest continues to rack up and courts just continue to rule against us.”

Reporter

“Sir as an imminent attorney, can you comment then on the point that was raised about calling into question the CCJ as a result of this case?”

Eamon Courtenay – Senior Counsel

“Again, the Prime Minister knows better than that, the Prime Minister knows better than that. The CCJ is the highest court for Belize, the US Supreme Court is the highest court for the United States, and the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is the supreme court of the United Kingdom. They ruled on US public policy, the CCJ ruled on Belize public policy, it is two totally different jurisdictions so this is something that is always done in arbitration, you move from one jurisdiction to the next in order to get a judgment enforced, some courts say no and some say yes it is done all the time.

Also weighing in on the matter is Mark Lizarraga, the Senator representing the Private Sector.

 

Senator Mark Lizarraga

We are still questioning what motivation the bond holders have to renegotiate, why would they want to renegotiate really, unless it was a better deal for them? So we will watch this very closely and of course hoping that the government can achieve some cash flow reprieve but as well some significant savings and we really don’t see the bond holders being motivated to move in that direction. What is the motivation for them to renegotiate really when they have an 11% penalty clause if we fail to meet our obligations under the current bond that was restructured, so what would be their motivation to renegotiate.

 Reporter

“Their motivation is that its trading at .40 cents on the dollar so obviously the market knows you are holding something that is close to junk so it’s best you convert it to garbage.

Senator Mark Lizarraga

“ We’ve been in the junk territory for a long while, for a very long while and the yields on those bonds are between 15 and 17, so the thing is that we have not kept our word, we have had to renegotiate several times we’ve said that the cash flow savings that we would receive would be put to good use, it hasn’t, so the bond holders are saying now what credibility do you have really, you have to come to me with some sort of medium term strategy. They are not saying a short term, in other words it needs to go beyond one administration, but they want to see a medium term strategy to how you are going to comprehensively look at our debt sustainability and we have yet to see that.