During newstime last night, word of Nestor Vasquez’s resignation as chairman of BTL surfaced. His resignation comes on the heels of an investigation into allegations that he misused the company’s credit card. Today, the issue was brought up in the House of Representatives by the Leader of the Opposition, John Briceno, who stated that now was as good of a time as ever for the Prime Minister to explain what is happening at BTL. He also insinuated that the CEO in the Ministry of Finance, Audrey Wallace, was heading the investigation into Vasquez, which he saw as a conflict of interest. PM Dean Barrow spoke to the media after the meeting and clarified that that information is not accurate.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “It’s a matter for the board. I know that we’ve discussed the appointment of an interim chair so that in fact we can legally be on the front foot with respect to then the investigation that has to happen taking place subject to that over all direction form a person invested with the authority of the chair – that person is not going to be Audrey Wallace. Upsetting, it hurts me terribly. I repeat that Net Vasquez has been one of the persons I have most admired in my political life. He’s become as you say a very very good friend of mine. I regret greatly that these allegations have been made and that there is some possible involvement in the supposed abuse of the company’s credit card. I don’t know that I can say much more than that notwithstanding how I feel about him personally and professionally. The matter has to be investigated and the chips will have to fall where they may.”
Many have speculated that since Vasquez resign from his post as chairman, it implies that he is guilty. PM Barrow stated that this is not necessarily the case.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “You can say that in a situation like that you’ve done nothing wrong but that in order to deal with the issue of appearances and in order for the investigation to proceed in a manner that as chairman there can be no question of your trying to obstruct that the best thing is to resign. I honestly don’t know what personal position Mr.Vasquez takes on these allegations. I believe that he feels that whatever occurred is not something that in fact fingers him as being dishonest. That’s a matter – it’s a position he’s certainly entitled to take and the question of the public opinion already there are those who feel one way or another about what has happened but in terms of an informed judgment clearly that can only be properly made once the investigation is concluded.”
The question remains whether criminal charges will be levied against Vasquez if he is found guilty of misappropriating the funds. The PM stated that he does not know if it will come to that.
Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “From understanding in terms of the report I have received I don’t think so but I don’t know. I can’t even tell you when exactly the investigation will be concluded. Perhaps by the time it is concluded I supposed it will last beyond my tenure, if it doesn’t then we would have to look at the findings that the investigation would turn up. If in fact the investigation outlasts me then the decision as to whether to turn over any findings to the police would be a matter for somebody else.”
According to PM Barrow, a new chairman should be announced in the next day or two. There were speculations that Vasquez secured a 2 year contract for his TV station, Channel 7 for advertisements, and that this would be looked into as well. However, the Prime Minister stated that he is unaware of those details.