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PUP Minister Responds to UDP’s Claim of Conflict of Interest

Earlier in the week, we told you about the letter that UDP Chairman, Michael Peyrefitte, sent to Governor-General Dame Froyla Tzalam. In that letter, Peyrefitte asks Dame Froyla if indeed the government had requested permission for the Courtenay Coye LLP to act on behalf of the government in legal matters. Both Minister Coye and Foreign Affairs Minister Eamon Courtenay are partners of Courtenay Coye LLP. The UDP is also claiming there is a conflict of interest. Love News put the question directly to Minister Coye. Here is his response.

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “’I’m not sure how it would be a conflict of interest. I have no involvement. Senator Courtenay and I are both on sabbatical from the law firm, we have no involvement with the law firm at this point in time or at least for the period of our official service to the government. As far as any action or matter which the government engages the law firm for that is between the relevant department and the law firm. There is nothing hidden in what is occuring, who we are as ar as our declared position. We have gone through all the relevant processes for that according to the law.”

Reporter: So is it that you or minister Courtenay do not take a supervisory role or advisory role in your own law firm to make sure that these cases are –

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “None whatsoever. Of course not. I think in terms of the constitution, the constitution sets out the restrictions but also provides for certain exemptions I think Section 64 2 of the constitution is the one that speaks specifically to that and under that members of the National Assembly including the senate would need to secure and exemption from the Governor General that has been done in the case of both Senator Courtney and I I presume from 2020 so that’s a non starter really.”

Okay, so Minister Coye says there is no conflict of interest. He also said permission was given for the law firm to represent the government in legal matters. But the question remains. How much Courtenay Coye LLP has been paid by the people of Belize? 

Reporter: Your law firm is being paid with public funds. Government money, the people’s money.

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “I think the law firm is being paid by the government.”

Reporter: Yes. The people’s money.

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance:  “Yes.”

Reporter: Don’t you think that figure should be made public ? 

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “As I mentioned there will be full disclosure on that. The Prime Minister is the one that has been requested and I believe the Prime Minister will respond accordingly to the full figures but as far as that is concerned I expect that there will be disclosure of pre and post administration engagements.”

Reporter: Would you volunteer that disclosure ? 

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “I have no difficulty with that disclosure whatsoever.”

Reporter: As in you can say how much your law firm is –

Christopher Coye, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance: “I believe that is what the Prime Minister will respond with that information.”