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Former Minister of Works Accused of Misusing Government Assets

Allegations of abuse of the government’s assets and resources are not the only saga that Montero has become embroiled in. 

Allegations of abuse of the government’s assets and resources are not the only saga that Montero has become embroiled in.  While the Police were beginning its investigations into these allegations, another team of law enforcement and public officers were repossessing a steel gate that was specially built for the Peter August Stadium.  The report is that the gate was found one of Montero’s properties in Red Creek, Cayo District, after being specially designed and built by Cayo Steel Works Company as a horse gate for the stadium.  Minister of Sports Kevin Bernard got the ball rolling for the repossession of the gate by reaching out for assistance from the Police.

Hon. Kevin Bernard, Minister of Sports: “It was brought to my attention that that starting gate was being housed at a private property allegedly belonging  to one Rene Montero the former Minister of Works. If my memory serves me right I believe even the media at one point had been involved in an issue where GSU may have been called in where they wanted to have a horse rate event in San Ignacio way back and they were stopped because they couldn’t get access to this same starting gate which was for their use on the very beginning. The action has been taken in terms of retrieving the equipment through the support of the CEO we did ask the police for assistance because we did not want any push back, we were not going to have any and as such as the Minister responsible for Sports and directly responsible for the National Sports Council and seeing that this was a donation gifted to the horse racing committee in San Ignacio to use solely for horse racing events under the auspices of the National Sports Council I felt it was important to take this action. This is not a personal vendetta against anybody but it is in principle that we took this action to return the starting gate to those who it rightfully belongs to under the care of the National Sports Council.” 

Also speaking on this issue was Minister Julius Espat who explained that his team of supervisors had done its investigations right after Minister Bernard requested assistance from them.

Hon. Julius Espat, Minister of Infrastructure Development and Housing:  “The Horse Race Association contacted us at the Ministry of Infrastructure to be able to assist them in maintaining the field in the Cayo district, the horse race field. We sent out our supervisors to analyze the work and in doing so they informed us of a gate, I don’t know what’s the technical term, a starting gate, and so we started to find out who owns the starting gate we were in contact with the Ministry of Youth the Honorable member from Orange Walk East and he asked us to be able to find out a little bit more. We found the gentleman that built the gate and he wrote us a letter- well he didn’t write to us he wrote to the Minister of Youth a letter explaining to him that the gate was a donation to the Horse Race Association and the Minister requested of us if we could have assist him with equipment to be able to retrieve the gate. The Minister also contacted the Commissioner of Police, the Commissioner of Police was in communication with us, it was a joint effort we took our equipment and the police escorted us and the equipment was retrieved this morning.”

Montero has since taken to social media saying that the gate was not found on his property.  He added that it was the very same members of the Horse Race Sporting Committee that had asked for the gate to be stored and secured.  Montero says he had never had possession of the gate since it was handed over by Cayo Steel Works for use at the stadium.  In speaking with the Police Commissioner Love News understands that the situation may be tantamount to theft, but that further investigations would be needed as well as an official complaint from the Ministry of Sports or the Ministry of Works.

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “I know that yesterday the CEO in the Ministry of Works had contacted me saying that there was some gate that may have been donated to the Ministry of Works during the previous administration and the gate was not being used at the property for which it was donated. They also produced proof that it was a donation to the Ministry and based on that I had directed the officer commanding San Ignacio Mr.Gemot to go along with the Ministry of Works personnel to be able to recover that gate and I was briefed this morning by Mr.Gemot that they had gone and the gate was recovered.”

Reporter: Alright in a case like this for example this is not a broad allegation of corruption this can be viewed tantamount to theft is this situation with that gate going to be looked at separate from the letter with all those evidence and statements ?

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Well yes if the Ministry of Works were to make a complaint in respect to that matter and there is evidence to indicate that there was some intention of permanently depriving the Ministry of Works of that property then that is surely tantamount to theft and it is something the police would investigate as well.”

Reporter: Now you say it was evidence why – I don’t know if you received a copy of the letter from Cayo Steel Works to Minister Kevin Bernard that said that they specifically designed and donated that gate for the Peter August Stadium in Cayo and not for any one individual’s private personal use – would that be evidence enough ?

Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police: “Well yes the police will have to get a statement complete and detailed statement from the property and we’ll look at the circumstances and then look a where the benefit item was taken, what it has been used for and once it is proven that it was not being used for the purpose for which it was donated and it was being used at a private property then indeed that would be sufficient to constitute the charge of theft.”

In his statement on social media earlier today Montero wrote, quote, “it is gross negligence by this vindictive government of Belize who continue to bear false allegations against me.”  End of quote.  Also on social media, UDP’s Area Representative for the Mesopotamia Shyne Barrow noted, quote, “ While Ministers of Government and all elected Representatives must be held to account for any misuse or abuse of their office, I reject any attempt by the PUP administration to misuse the Police Department, DPP and Judiciary as political weapons.  Where it is any of my colleagues are found to be in breach of their oath of office and criminal prosecution is warranted then justice must be done.  However where it is trumped charges and baseless allegations are being put forth then we must call it for what it is, a POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!!!”  End of quote.