Former UDP Minister Accuses Ex-Attorney General Amid Definitive Agreement Scandal
Former UDP Minister, Erwin Contreras has spoken for the first time since the scandal of the Definitive Agreement emerged. Contreras, through his attorney, has declared to the court that the former Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte knew of the negotiations between the Government of Belize and Portico Enterprises. Contreras’ declarations were made in response to a multi-million dollar lawsuit being brought against him. Back in July, the Ashcroft Alliance brought a ten-million-dollar lawsuit against Contreras for what it says was a reckless abuse of his power in signing the Definitive Agreement. Contreras’ attorney, Bill Lindo Jr., submitted a written defense claiming that he (Contreras) acted legally and properly. The document noted, and we quote, “at all material times, having regard to the number of jobs and the desperate need for investment to propel the rebound of the Belizean economy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, acted in good faith in signing the Definitive Agreement.” End of quote. He further declared, quote, “In fact, the GoB was in negotiations with the then Attorney General and the principals of Port of Magical Belize (PoMB) which, as far as the Defendant was aware, resulted in multiple drafts being exchanged.” Earlier today, former Attorney General, Michael Peyrefitte, rebutted Contreras’ claims, calling him a liar.
Michael Peyrefitte, UDP Chairman, Former Attorney General of Belize: “He said he was aware that there were some negotiations going on between the government, myself and Portico concerning this definitive agreement. Well maybe that’s what he feels like he had to say. Or maybe somebody told him to say that. But I can tell you that is categorically not true. He could not have known about any negotiations between the government, myself and Portico because there were no negotiations happening. I repeat, I got a call with a request that there was a definitive agreement out there that Portico wanted me to sign. I said absolutely not. I’m not signing any definitive agreement because we’re not there yet. Cabinet hasn’t even considered that yet and I can only sign after Cabinet instructs me to do so. I also said do not send any document to me, do not send anything to me, send it to the then chairperson of the investment committee, which Portico obviously did and that was the one that the Prime Minister read in the National Assembly and tried to pretend like it was sent to me when in fact it was sent to the Honorable Tracy Panton. When you’re in government a lot of things get sent to you. I repeat this position. I was aware that there was a definitive agreement going around because they wanted me to sign one. I said I will not sign that. I did not become aware that it was signed and signed by one of our ministers at the time until earlier in this year when everybody found that out. I was the one who wrote to the Prime Minister in the first place to say, Prime Minister I’m being informed that there is a signed definitive agreement going around and I want to see it. But of course he didn’t answer me but it was leaked by those who felt that it needed to come out. So what he said in his defense is totally untrue. There were never negotiations going on but then you could say this to yourself. Let’s take it at its maximum. Let’s just say there were negotiations going on between the government and Portico. Let’s just say that, and I’m not saying that was what was happening, but let’s just say that was what was happening. Why would you sign in the middle of negotiations? Why don’t you wait for the negotiations to be over before you sign? So to me, it’s inconsistent with what he said.”
Contreras also claims he had authority as the Minister of Investment to sign the document, which the government was aware of.