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PM Explains Meeting With Ashcroft

It was almost as though the Prime Minister had pre-emptied the points on the PUP agenda as this morning whilst on The Morning Show, Prime Minister Dean Barrow went into details to explain why he went into the meeting with Lord Ashcroft.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow: “In the circumstances I’m afraid I entirely disagree with that and let me tell you why. We’ve all known that these previous owners which are companies, Dunkeld Investment Limited in turn owned by Hayward Trust; when we were trying to send out the money to make the first payment there were difficulties from the Central Bank because of the “know your customer” rules that apply now because of anti-money laundering and it was a hell of a thing to find out who really would collect the money. In terms of then trying to negotiate a settlement there was nobody for officials of the government to negotiate with in terms of these trusts because ultimately you couldn’t even find out, you could look at some trustees and see Dean Boyce and Keith Arnold on the one side but everybody knew without it’s being made clear, it’s been made clear now because of the disclosures that have had to be made as we’ve sent money out, that the protector and advisors to these trusts and companies is Lord Ashcroft. In effect he is moving, he is the controller, he is layman’s term the owners. He was not prepared to negotiate with officials of the government of Belize and you might say that is a degree of arrogance. He would justify it on the basis that he wasn’t the owner, and merely and advisor. He was clearly only prepared to negotiate with me. Why did the negotiation come about at the point that it did? We were just about to get the CCJ ruling on the question on the constitutionality on the nationalization whether it was valid. While I and the cabinet and the lawyers were convinced that we would win that and the nationalization would be upheld there is always litigation risk, for the first time Lord Ashcroft was prepared to say that “I will relinquish my claim to the return of the company if we can talk settlement.”