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GOB ordered to cough up $78 Million in BTL case

The Government of Belize has been ordered to cough up US78 Million dollars by the Caribbean Court of Justice which handed down its ruling this morning. The matter is in relation to the BTL Arbitration matter. The CCJ has ordered that US $62, 849, 794.23 be paid to Dunkheld International and US $15, 314, 006.84 to the BTL Employees by November 10. If the due date passes, the interest of 8.34 percent will be added annually. The judgment was delivered by Justice David Hayton.

Justice David Hayton

“So the court orders the Financial Secretary on or before November 10th 2017 to pay one, to Dunkheld the amount of US Dollars $62,849,799.23 representing 78,299,947.26 in US dollars as certified to be due on the 28th of June 2017, less the sum of 15,450,148.03 US dollars that were actually being paid by it the Government of Belize to Dunkheld on the 18th of July 2017. And secondly to pay to Dunkheld the amount of Belize dollars $245,155.36 as certified to be due on the 28th June 2017. And thirdly to the trust the amount us US dollars $15,314,006.84 representing $20,338,942.94 US dollars as certified due on the 28th June 2017 by less US dollars $5,024,936.10 paid by the Government of Belize to the trust on the 18th of July 2017 and to the trust the amount of Belize dollars $10,300,518.34 as the trust restriction amount bound certified to be due on the 28th of June 2017 by Moore Stevens Magana LLP. And to the extent to full payment is not made on or before the 10th of November 2017 interest will run thereafter 8.34% per annum compounded quarterly pursuant to paragraph 362 J of the Arbitration Tribunal’s Final award on the default interest unpaid interest of 6% compounded monthly pursuant to clause 6.”

Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who representing Dunkheld International, BTL Employee Trust, and Dean Boyce,  said that GOB needs to follow the court order.

Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay

“Their issue was on the question of how much US dollars was to be paid and the dispute between us really was whether they had a right to determine for themselves what liabilities of Dunkheld and the trust they were going to honor, now that is entirely unreasonable and the court has rejected that position advanced by the government. My clients took the very charitable step of having their liabilities audited, the agreement did not call for that but they did that of their own volition, they used very reputable Belizean firms and the court has even praised the integrity and professionalism of the firm and so the court was able to rely on those audits which is what we have been saying all along. The liabilities have been audited and the government should accept it. Now there is a payment of about $78 million dollars by the 10th of November. I am told that that is about a quarter of the current reserves of the country, that is a tremendous amount of money but there is a court order against the government and my clients expect that they will obey the court order. The question here is who is responsible for this state of affairs. The agreement as you know was negotiated by the Prime Minister and Mr. Ashcroft themselves and then lawyers went to work to put that agreement into legal language. The CCJ today as well as they did before have criticized the drafting of the agreement and essentially what they are saying is that the agreement is not what the Prime Minister said to the public it was. Whatever he may have had on his mind is not on the paper. I can only say that that is his fault, he signed it, he read it before he signed it. The exposure of the country today is squarely on the Government of Belize under Prime Minister Barrow. It is his agreement, this is not any old PUP agreement that he likes to rely on this is his agreement. At the end of the day however the nation is being called upon to pay $78 million US dollars in ten days that is a very very difficult thing to do but there is a court order and the Prime Minister who signed it is the Minister of Finance and he needs to come up and come up now.

Belize’s Financial Secretary, Joseph Waight says he is disappointed in the judgment.

Joseph Waight – Financial Secretary

“It’s a disappointment but we respect the court. That is an order to the Financial Secretary so we will see how we can comply. It’s a lot of money, it’s going to have an impact, but we have to digest it and see we have an idea but it will take some time. We have a duty to protect our interest, we have a duty, we have to go through all stages we couldn’t just leave it as it was, we thought we had strong grounds, high ground, the court saw it differently.”