Atlantic International Bank (AIB), an offshore institution, was cited in a in a civil complaint from the Federal Trade Commission in the United States. The Trade Commission requested a US Federal District Court to shut down a real estate scam called Sanctuary Belize which siphoned millions of dollars from North Americans who wished to build homes in Belize. The properties involved are on the Sittee River Wildlife Preserve, a privately owned company which had some legal representation by Prime Minister Dean Barrow’s Law firm. Barrow denies that there is anything wrong done by the law firm with representing the company and believes that it is unfortunate that Atlantic International was named in the suit. After today’s House Sitting, PM Barrow told the media he does not believe it will have any effect on the banking system in Belize.
Honorable Prime Minister Dean Barrow: The contract between themselves and SB had been breached and prepared therefore to sue for the recovery of their money. If they actually alleged criminal fraud then that’s a different matter but just on the basis of the material that I saw which constituted the complaint of the FTC it was certainly according to the judgment of the authorities in the states and we know those people don’t play. It wasn’t a question of criminal fraud as much as the kind of fraudulent misrepresentation which grounds civil liability and for which damages would be recoverable. Of course it is unpleasant that our country’s name should be called in this context. It is even more unpleasant that apart from these companies registered here but in relation to which we all know the moving forces are foreign. It is extremely worrying that Atlantic International Bank Ltd should have been named but there it is. I can do no more than repeat that as far as we can tell and the Central Bank has checked and continues to check there is no risk of any kind of infection with regard to the rest of the Banking system with regard to the financial system in this country. It is on the face of it limited entirely to AIBL and with respect to the evidence or the alleged evidence that I saw in the complaint I would hope and believe that AIBL will be able to work through this.
Belize Telemedia Limited had received a loan from Atlantic International Bank. PM Barrow says that Telemedia is not affected in any way and the funds had already been drawn out by Telemedia.