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UDP Chairman Wants to know how Much GOB Paid Courtenay Coye LLP, Douglas Mendes

Chairman of the United Democratic Party, Michael Peyrefitte, wants the Ministry of Finance to reveal how much money has been paid to Courtenay Coye LLP by the government for all legal works done on GOB’s behalf. This request was put in writing and sent to the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance John Briceno. In the letter, Peyrefitte tells PM Briceno that he notices that (quote) “a trend is developing with the Government consistently, since November 2020, hiring Mr Douglas Mendes, Senior Counsel and Courtenay Coye LLP for their legal representatives in various matters.” (end of quote) Peyrefitte says that the latest case being related to Brads Gaming Group Limited. He points out to the Prime Minister that the two principal partners of Courtenay Coye LLP are government ministers. Peyrefitte says that he hopes that the two ministers have followed the law when it comes to the government entering into the contracts with entities that directly benefit sitting Cabinet Ministers. Peyrefitte also wants the ministry to reveal how much money has been paid to Senior Counsel Douglas Mendes. Peyrefitte says it is the obligation of the government to be transparent. 

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP: “Even if you don’t think it’s urgent we have a right to know. We have an AG’s ministry. They used to complain all the time about when the UDP word would outsource legal work and they are doing the same thing that they used to accuse us of. And all we want to know is how much the government has paid Douglas Mendez who is counsel from Trinidad and how much they have paid Courtenay Coye LLP for work being done for the government, how much they’ve been paid, and how much they’ve been contracted to get paid and what do we owe them for work being done. That’s the people’s money they have a right to know, how it will be spent and as a responsible Opposition we have a right to ask those questions. The constitution said that as a senator you cannot be the partner in a firm or a company or anything like that that does business with government unless you disclose that to the Governor General and the Governor General has said that notwithstanding your entering into the contract in this case she will not disqualify you as a senator. So at the very least the senators who are the principal partners of Courtenay Coye LLP should have notified the Governor General of entering into contract to represent the Government of Belize since they’re senators and senators on the government side and she ought to have given something to indicate that she acknowledged their fullness and frankness and that notwithstanding that she is not disqualifying them from being senator, that’s a concern that for their sake there better be the paperwork to support that but that’s not even my issue at this point. My issue at this point is how much are they being paid? Because  we’re being told that they are being paid exorbitant amounts of money and we want to know why.”

This is not the first time that the government is hiring private attorneys or entities. It was done by the previous government, so the media asked Peyrefitte if the UDP is being hypocritical. 

Michael Peyrefitte, Chairman, UDP:  Even if you want to make that argument I maintain that Barrow and Williams was not retained by the government. Secondly if you want to maintain that argument and for argument’s sake say we accept that, which we do not.  what we are saying is that they made a lot of noise about it. They said that so much was wrong about it and so now they promised that it was so wrong that they would be different, that they would do things so so differently and you have a case now where you have not just one member of cabinet but two members of cabinet;  one the defacto Prime Minister who is the Foreign Minister Eamon Courtenay and two the Minister of State for Finance who would be the one paying his own law firm for work to be done on behalf of the government. That is something like I said the constitution allows for it providing that certain disclosures are made and the Governor General signs off on it but beyond that, beyond that we’re talking about actual money. How much is being paid, it doesn’t matter that you say that you believe previous people used to do it, you said you would be different. You said you wouldn’t do this. Members of your current administration used to rail hell in parliament about this. Your hypocrisy must be exposed and the people have a right to know how their money is being spent.”