DC Federal Judge Authorizes Enforcement of Award to BCB Holdings Ltd

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Updated: February 7, 2017

The fifty million dollar arbitration award against the Government of Belize has been the subject of a back and forth both in the local and US courts and according to a New York article, the latest on the issue came yesterday when a DC Federal Judge authorized the enforcement of the award to the BCB Holdings Limited.  This enforcement by the federal judge comes several weeks after the US Supreme Court had declined to review the matter.  According to the article dated today, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly signed off on BCB’s motion for an order authorizing enforcement of the judgment against the Belizean government, despite an order issued by the Belizean Supreme Court on Friday prohibiting BCB — now known as Caribbean Investment Holdings Ltd. — from enforcing the award and subjecting company representatives to potential contempt in Belize if they try.In particular, the judge said that a reasonable amount of time had passed since the 2015 order confirming the judgment and that BCB could seek to enforce it by attaching the Belizean government’s property in the U.S. But she denied BCB’s bid for an anti-suit injunction barring Belize from going to its local courts to restrain BCB from enforcing the award, saying such an order wasn’t necessary since they are generally meant to protect a court’s jurisdiction and that was no longer at risk.  The judge was quoted as saying, ‘Although the actions of the [government of Belize] are apparently aimed at preventing petitioners from enforcing the judgment of this court, at this time they do not interfere with this court’s jurisdiction, this court has confirmed petitioners’ arbitration award, entered judgment in favor of petitioners, and now authorized petitioners to proceed to seek to enforce this judgment in the appropriate jurisdiction in which it can find attachable property of the GOB. Presently there is no issue left for this court.”  End of quote.  BCB is attempting to enforce a $20.5 million award, which was issued by a London tribunal in 2009. The award, which totals approximately $27.4 million with interest, had been issued following a dispute over an allegedly secret 2005 deal between then-Belizean Prime Minister Said Musa and BCB, a Belizean financial services company controlled by U.K. billionaire and Musa campaign contributor Michael Ashcroft.Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the BCB case, along with two other cases concerning arbitral awards issued to airport contractor Newco Ltd., which won $4.4 million following a dispute over a terminated operating agreement, and Belize Social Development Ltd.