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PM says Cabinet Ministers deny taking monies from Lev Dermen

The imminent testimony of Jacob Kingston in the US Courts against Lev Dermen has taken on a life of its own in Belize as fingers are being pointed at several Government ministers being involved in receiving bribes and special favors from Dermen.

The imminent testimony of Jacob Kingston in the US Courts against Lev Dermen has taken on a life of its own in Belize as fingers are being pointed at several Government ministers being involved in receiving bribes and special favors from Dermen.  With all media houses reporting on the documents that have been surfacing lately, the Prime Minister was compelled to respond after questioning his Cabinet in yesterday’s meeting.

Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “I can’t begin to guess and speculate and surmise and attempt to play Sherlock Holmes to come up with the names that obviously for good and sufficient reason up to this point in time the prosecutor in the US has left unspecified. What I can do though, what I have done is this; because while no names are called the finger has been pointed squarely at two officials of this government, what I did was yesterday in our Cabinet meeting I required each Cabinet member to say whether he or she could have any reason to believe that he or she would be the person or that they would be the persons to which the material is referring. Let me put it another way, “did anyone in this room”, talking about the Cabinet room yesterday, “receive $25,000 US dollars per month over a period of time from this Mr.Lev or Mr.Kingston or some third person that one time Mr.Kingston said was used as an intermediary?.” – and the answer came back “No.” Other question, “Did anyone in this room receive funds from Mr.Lev by way of an electronic transfer?” and the answer came back “No.” “

Missing from the Cabinet meeting on January 14 was Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber who was in Guatemala and the Minister of Trade, Tracy Taegar Panton.  According to the PM, Taegar Panton has noted that she is not familiar with Dermen and had no dealings with him.  So, the question tonight is, ‘where do we go from here?’  We can definitely tell you that no one is being fired or axed today.  According to the Prime Minister, we will just have to wait and see.

Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Ladies and gentlemen that is where for the moment the matter must rest, but truth will out you know and clearly the evidence in this trial will be forthcoming. I don’t think I can make my position any clearer, once there is evidence of monies having been received by any UDP cabinet member from this gentleman game over, my reaction is going to be axiomatic and I promise the Belizean people that as I have always done I will move swiftly in the face of what I would know to be actionable wrongdoing.”

The trial is set to start in the state of Utah on January 27.  Should the testimony reveal the names of the Government Ministers involved, there may be no repercussions as the monies could have been justified as campaign financing which is not illegal in Belize.

Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: What I am here to also tell you is this; if it turns out that indeed there is evidence to show that a member or two members of my cabinet received funds from Mr.Lev there will be hell to pay. I’m not even going to — I want there to be no misunderstanding, I’m not even going to get into the fact that well even if somebody is shown to have received let’s say the $25,000 a month but there is no allegation that the monies were given to the Minister in return for, that it constituted in that latin term now made famous by the one and only President Trump, in return for a quid pro quo; that would not and could not let the Minister off the hook. Might be that the Minister could make a hell of a case saying “where is the proof that this was other than a campaign contribution from someone that I knew who supported me”, and there are no laws in Belize much to my chagrin that regulate campaign finance contributions. But I wouldn’t need to get into that sort of an argument with the Minister would I?, because even if that could be shown to be true you lied to me and you lied to the Cabinet in saying that you did not receive any money; Q.E.D that in itself is a basis for me to say “Sir/Madam, you cannot stay in any cabinet that I lead.”

One of the allegations is that at least one Government Minister was receiving twenty-five thousand US dollars on a monthly basis.  The media asked the Prime Minister whether an investigation will be launched.

Rt.Hon Dean Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize: “Let’s get back to this question of the cash. When you are talking about an investigation and Marisol said go examine their bank accounts and give them polygraphs, if you’re paid in cash how will anybody trace that ? What you think anybody who receive that will do? You can’t go to bank and put in any $25,000 US. Everybody knows you have to show source of funds, so how are you going to trace it ? You’re going to try to go to every find out so and so was spending money? Look man, let us concede this is not a matter of not wanting to do more, it is a matter of not being able to do more in the circumstances, it is a matter of biding our time; I must bide my time, Cabinet must bid its time, the media must bide its time the public must bide its time because ultimately there will be a case and evidence will be led and then depending on that evidence all hell will break loose.”