Last week the Government of Belize and International Airport Alliance Belize Limited signed a memorandum of understanding to develop and manage a full-service International Airport on Northern San Pedro, Ambergris Caye. Soon after, the integrity of Jorge Abraham Jaen who signed on behalf of International Airport Alliance Belize Limited was questioned. He has been allegedly involved in fraud schemes in South Florida USA. Today the media asked Courtenay whether he believes the government is protected from fraud under the San Pedro Airport project.
Eamon Courtney, Attorney at Law
“Quite frankly the press release that has been issued by the company raises more questions than answers. What we really want to know, at least the People’s United Party wants to know is who are the main players in this company? It can’t be the gentleman who has been exposed for what he is, he is one of others because if you read the press release they don’t identify who they are it says we brought him in, we tolerated him and allowed him to come into the country. So who are the people who have experience in airport development, airport management, airport appreciation I would like to see and I believe all Belizeans would like to see the business plan that would support such a massive investment in North Ambergris Caye around which there is absolutely no facilities nothing. One hopes that the government has done its due diligence, if it has done its due diligence it means that the government knew who they were dealing with. Once information came out as to this man’s character and his history I have not seen them say anything. I’m assuming that they did their due diligence and they knew what this man was about; the question is whether this is the type of person Belize wants to do business with. You see these things, at first sight, might seem trivial but I can tell you this there is going to be a problem if they proceed with this with that gentleman. An airport is a hypersensitive area in any country. It is a point for serious illegality, I would suspect that the international organizations that deal with airports, I would suspect that international airlines are going to look very carefully at whether or not an airport is being developed by a person who is not fit and proper and if the person is not fit and proper they are not going to issue the regulatory certificates that are necessary for planes to land there and for the airport to operate, this is a serious matter.”
The International Airport Alliance has replied to the allegations saying the document has been circulating on the Internet for over ten years. It says the IAA was aware of the issue surrounding Jaen in the past and still elected to allow him to join the company. They say the allegations against Jaen were unfounded and Jaen was never prosecuted.