Issue of Belize’s Foreign Reserves Mixed with Political Overtones

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Updated: February 9, 2017

One of the major national issues currently on the front burner for Belize is that of our foreign reserves and the uncertainty as to whether it can be seized in the matter of the arbitration award for BCB Holdings Limited.  Yesterday, the United Democratic Party called for the resignation of PUP’s Lead Senator, Eamon Courtenay citing that he has betrayed the country by representing Lord Michael Ashcroft of BCB Holdings Limited and filing a court application on his behalf after supporting a legislation brought to the Senate surrounding the International Immunities Act.  While this is a matter of great national importance, the parties are somehow still inserting political streaks into the matter as today, the People’s United Party responded to the UDP in a 2-page release not only expressing their support for Senator Courtenay but also accusing the Barrow administration of corruption.  In the release by the PUP, it noted, quote, “The People’s United Party voted in favour of the legislation brought to the National Assembly because the PUP believes in defending the national interests and specifically the foreign reserves of Belize. Belizeans will recall that the Hon. John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition, brought to light that no notice was given by the UDP regarding the details of the legislation so that proper research and consultation be done. The PUP has concluded its research and wishes to inform Belizeans that according to the laws of the United States of America, Belize’s reserves in the Central Bank are safe and cannot be attached or executed against by anyone including Lord Ashcroft’s companies. Section 1611 of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of the USA states: “the property of a foreign state shall be immune from attachment and from execution, if— (1) the property is that of a foreign central bank or monetary authority”. The advice the PUP has received from US based attorneys is that this law fully protects Belize’s foreign reserves. The PUP’s legal adviser has drawn to the attention of the Party that the Central Bank of Belize (International Immunities) Act, which according to the Prime Minister is needed to protect our foreign reserves, has no application in the United States of America and therefore does not protect Belize’s foreign reserves held in US banks. According to Senior Counsel Andrew Marshalleck, “Belize’s foreign reserves in the US are fully protected by the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act.” In true fashion, Prime Minister Barrow continues to demonstrate he is all glitter but no substance. The truth is that as always, the UDP is once again trying to distract attention from their incompetence, mismanagement and corrupt ways. What the UDP needs to explain is why the Prime Minister, whose law firm continues to represent Lord Ashcroft’s companies, signed a blank check to the former owners of BTL that ended up costing the Belizean people over $557 million for a part of a company that’s worth a little over $100 million? Why did Senators Godwin Hulse and Steve Duncan mysteriously drop their case in the Supreme Court in 2009 when they were challenging the BTL Accommodation agreement? Today Belize has the most corrupt government ever. The Senate Inquiry into the Immigration scandal has revealed that the former Director of Immigration has admitted that there was electoral fraud in the 2012 General Elections. Now, Ms. Candelaria Saldivar, the sister of Minister John Saldivar has said that Senator Godwin Hulse knew of the Immigration scandal. It has also been exposed that many ministers were visiting the Immigration Department trying to influence the issuing of visas, nationalities and passports. These are the UDP Ministers and Senators who have betrayed the Belizean people. These are the people that need to do the decent thing. These are the people that need to resign! For the record, Senator Courtenay has done a stellar job in the Senate highlighting the wrongdoings of this government and continues to enjoy the full support of the Leader of the Opposition.”  End of quote.