Sanctuary Belize was described by the US Federal Trade Commission as the largest real estate fraud the agency has ever uncovered in its history. The land scheme fraudulently took hundreds of millions of dollars from investors in the USA and Canada. It is another indictment on doing business in Belize, though the perpetrators were mostly foreign. Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Development, Petroleum, Investment, Trade and Commerce Tracy Taegar-Panton says it was unfortunate that the country’s name was involved in the scheme.
Honorable Tracy Panton: “It is a very unfortunate situation, what I can say is it gives us a black eye as a country and so what we have been doing for the last three years is to strengthen the review of any kind of investment that is going to be done in the country, there is actually a sub committee of Cabinet that looks at these proposals. The due diligence process is a lot more tougher, it takes a longer time but we think it is important to do that kind of examinations to ensure that this kind of event does not happen. There is also responsibility though of people who are investing in the country in these kinds of schemes to ensure that they check these people out. We got through a far more thorough vetting process than we have ever done before because of some of the incidents we have seen recently. Not all investors come through the official process so not all investors come to BELTRAIDE for vetting or the FIU for vetting. Those are the systems we are trying to strengthen as we we speak and in the initial years of Sanctuary Bay as I understand it there was money moving in the economy, things seemed to be happening so there was no red flags so to speak to create what we see now but I can assure that we will do everything that we humanly can to ensure that these investors are properly screened so that we can avoid this kind of situation in the future.