Is PM in Washington DC to discuss arbitral award against Belize?

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Updated: October 12, 2017

On Monday the Office of the Prime Minister announced that PM Dean Barrow left the county to attend official meetings in Washington D.C.  While the Office of the Prime Minister mentioned that one of those meetings is with the OPEC Fund for International Development, for the new Haulover Bridge Project, Love News understands that Barrow is meeting with three top attorneys, Kristin Graham Koehler, Louis B. Kimmelman and Dana C. MacGrath. Koehler specializes in Government Litigation and Investigations Healthcare. Kimmelman is the co-leader of his firm’s global International Arbitration practice. He acts as lead counsel in complex commercial and investment treaty disputes under all the major international arbitration rules and serves as an arbitrator in international and domestic disputes. MacGrath has a broad range of experience in international arbitration and litigation in aid of the arbitration process. Also present at the meetings are government attorneys in DC, Creighton R. Magid and Juan C. Basombrio, both partners at Dorsey and Witney LLP. The meeting, we understand, is focused on a looming twenty seven point four million US dollar arbitral award that was initially issued to BCB Holdings Limited and the Belize Bank Limited.  It is an award whose enforcement is long being sought via the United States.  Since the confirmation of the award, the Ashcroft companies assigned it to an entity in Turks and Caicos which asked a DC Federal Judge to substitute Midway Investments Limited as the recipient in order for them to move forward with having the order enforced in the US.  On August 18, U.S. District Judge, Colleen Kollar-Kotelly agreed to have Midway Investments of Turks and Caicos take over the ownership of the twenty seven point four million US dollar arbitration award. This means that Midway Investments can enforce the judgement since they would not be subjected to the jurisdiction of Belize’s courts and therefore any attempt at an injunction or prevention would not apply to them. Several months ago, the Belize Supreme Court had prohibited BCB Holdings from enforcing the award via a temporary injunction while laws were passed to criminalize efforts made to enforce foreign judgements against Belize. The injunction was lifted eventually but the law remained. The Government of Belize claimed that if Midway is recognized as the owner of the judgment, it will not be subject to the jurisdiction of the Belizean courts, since it is registered in Turks and Caicos despite its ties to BCB and a subsidiary of Caribbean Investment Holdings Ltd.  This award stems from the favourable tax treatment that was given to the two Ashcroft companies under the Said Musa administration.  Barrow is expected back in the country on Sunday October 15. Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber is acting Prime Minister.