When the Puerto Azul project was initially pitched to investors and the Government of Belize, the so called developers Domenico Giannini, and Fabio La Rosa spoke of an eight star resort with world class services and ‘out of this world’ accommodations. It sounded too good to be true and it turns out that it was. The Puerto Azul project was a scam to attract investors and their millions. The developers were arrested in Switzerland for orchestrating an international Ponzi scheme and Belize is getting bad press for it. That’s because Giannini, and La Rosa promised investors to build this resort in Belize near the Great Blue Hole. While it may have come as a surprise for many, Minister Godwin Hulse who is the Chairman of the Cabinet subcommittee on Investment said he was not surprised by the revelations.
Minister Godwin Hulse
“I was not surprised at all. Actually the first time the project came, you know we had several meetings, I had my issues; I could catalog them for you. One was to put a near ship anywhere near the reef; as an engineer, I know that would never have worked: sonic boom alone. Two, they were going to raise commercial paper and I had made it clear to them in a meeting, that is fine when you put that on paper but show me the money. Anybody can come with certification that you can raise a billion dollars or two but banks don’t release money that easily and to tell me that oh, money is no problem, anybody who tells me that money is no problem, I get very excited because money is always a problem to raise so I was not surprised at all.”
Minister Hulse says that the Cabinet Subcommittee on Investment designed a five point investment policy that the developers of this fake Puerto Azul concept were not able to meet.
Minister Godwin Hulse
“We developed it pretty much after Puerto Azul. Puerto Azul came kind of in the middle of that and it was a learning process that we could in fact in the future know where to say no and where to say yes. First of all the project had to be socially and economically feasible and legally doable and it had to bring revenue to government, it had to bring foreign exchange into the country, it had to provide meaningful jobs and last but not least it had to ensure the environment preservation and cultural heritage. You’ll remember one of the major problems they had to start with is this whole environment issue, when they went to look at the island and how it was. So these two guys, one working out of Europe, one working out of Holland, one working out of Didier. No surprise at all to me because at the end of the day we would not have moved forward until they could have established some clear proof that money was available and they couldn’t do that. We sent them in a way, I wouldn’t say packing, but we said to them come back to us when you have a, b, c and d and they never came back with a, b, c and d and that’s where it languished.”
Hulse assured that Giannini, and La Rosa made no investment in Belize.