London tribunal dismissed the Belize Bank’s claim
Monday, August 17th, 2009
Belmopan. 17th August 2009 – The Government of Belize has received, from the London Court of International Arbitration, an official copy of the “First Partial Award” made by the Arbitral Tribunal in the matter of the Belize Bank Limited v the Government of Belize. The Tribunal has dismissed all the claims of the Belize Bank against the Government of Belize, arising out of the so-called 2008 oral settlement agreement. That was an agreement between the Musa administration and the Belize Bank, which diverted the 10 million (US) gifted to the people of Belize for housing by the Government of Venezuela. The money was instead paid over to the Belize Bank by the Musa administration in supposed settlement of the infamous UHS debt. It was, however, later recovered by the current administration via the efforts of the Central Bank of Belize.
In particular, the London tribunal dismissed the Belize Bank’s claim that the payment to and receipt by the Belize Bank of the US $10 million was lawful; and dismissed its claim for damages against the Government of Belize in the sum of US $10 million plus interest from 11 August 2008.
In coming to its decision, the Tribunal impugned the actions of then Prime Minister Said Musa, AG Francis Fonseca and Home Affairs Minister Ralph Fonseca, as well as the conduct of the Belize Bank. The Tribunal declared that the Venezuelan US $10 million “should have been paid into the (Belize) Consolidated Revenue Fund……….before any transfer could be made to the Claimant subject to the controls set out in the Finance Act……..The oral agreement (between the Musa administration and the Belize Bank) therefore violates Article 114 (1) of the Belize Constitution and section 3 of the Finance Act”. Importantly, the tribunal explicitly found that one of the fundamental objectives of the 2008 Settlement Agreement between the Claimant and the Government of Belize…….”was to ensure that the existence of the Venezuelan Funds remained concealed from the National Assembly and the Belize public so that the controls set out in the Finance Act could be avoided……”
In all the circumstances the tribunal declared that the agreement between the Musa administration and the Belize Bank concerning the Venezuelan funds is void for illegality and that the Central Bank of Belize acted properly in requiring the return of the monies.
GOB notes that the London Tribunal is still to determine the Belize Bank’s claim that, the Venezuelan monies apart, the Government of Belize is to pay 33,545,820 under the March 2007 Settlement Agreement and Loan Note made by the Musa administration regarding the UHS debt. That decision has been reserved for a date to be fixed, but in the meantime the government has welcomed the current decision. GOB sees it as a strong censure of the illegal and outrageous secret deal between the PUP government and the Belize Bank, and a vindication of the UDP’s struggle for, and recovery of, the People’s Venezuela 10 million US.
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