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Belize’s Appeal for Delay in Paying Awards Denied by US Courts

Belize is bound by law to pay one hundred and ninety eight million dollars as the first half of the arbitration awards in the BTL nationalization.  This is not the only award that Belize is bound to pay but it is the largest so far.  In May we told you of the confirmation of the NEWCO Award handed down by the US District Court for the District of Colombia and there is a second award mentioned in a recent ruling handed down by the US Courts.  The information comes by way of an article published on July 8, 2016 where it reported that the DC Circuit has shot down Belize’s request to pause enforcement proceedings as they relate to two confirmed arbitration awards with a total of almost twenty five million US dollars plus interest and costs.  The two awards referred to includes the NEWCO matter as well as what the article describes as a back door deal.  According to the document, and we quote, “A three-judge panel for the circuit court, which had confirmed the awards in May, said in a one-sentence order that it was denying Belize’s motion to hold off on issuing the mandate — the process by which the suits are sent back to federal court — in two suits over arbitral awards issued to BCB Holdings Ltd. and Newco Ltd. while the country appeals the decisions and a similar case to the U.S. Supreme Court.  The panel did not give its reasoning.”  End of quote.  The Newco dispute stems from a 2002 concession agreement granting Newco operational control over the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport in Belize City. Following the government’s decision to terminate the agreement 11 months later, Newco exercised international arbitration provisions in Miami, which resulted in a $4.26 million award for the company plus costs and 8 percent interest per year.  The BCB award, meanwhile, has its origins in an allegedly secret 2005 deal between then-Minister Said Musa and BCB, a Belizean financial services company controlled by U.K. billionaire and Musa campaign contributor Lord Michael Ashcroft. A dispute arose when a newly elected government rejected tax returns that Belize Bank — a BCB Holdings subsidiary — had filed in accordance with the deal, and the London Court of International Arbitration eventually issued a $20.5 million award, plus interests and costs, against Belize.”  End of quote.