The San Pedro Sun

BTL Compensation Award Update

The Government of Belize (GOB) informs that a dispute has arisen between the Government and the Ashcroft Alliance over the recent BTL compensation award handed down by the Permanent Court of Arbitration.

GOB, after the most careful examination by a number of its experts, argues that the wrong rate of exchange was applied by the Arbitral Tribunal in arriving at its ultimate compensation figure. GOB also submits that the Tribunal’s calculation of interest was mathematically incorrect. Both mistakes by the Tribunal prejudiced GOB and resulted overall in larger sums being awarded than were justified. GOB has 30 days from the date of the award to seek rectification, and its overseas lawyers have now prepared and are filing the relevant application.

For its part, the Ashcroft Alliance questions the currency split used by GOB last week in making the first half payment of the award. It will be recalled that the award was divided into two by the Tribunal, with 40% of the total representing the non-Accommodation Agreement portion and 60% representing the Accommodation Agreement portion. The latter, according to the Settlement Agreement, is payable in Belize dollars and can only be spent to fund projects in Belize for the benefit of the people of Belize. The 40% is payable in United States currency and belongs entirely to the Ashcroft Alliance as compensation for the acquisition of their BTL shares.

Thus, GOB last Wednesday paid half of that unrestricted 40% of the award in US dollars to the Alliance, and half of the Accommodation Agreement 60% portion of the award in Belize dollars in trust for the people of Belize. But the Ashcroft Alliance now contends that half of the total award, and not just the 40%, should be paid in US currency. Apart from the foreign exchange implications, such a position would also short the Belize dollar portion reserved for the people of Belize.

The Alliance has now applied to the Caribbean Court of Justice for an interpretation supporting its contention. But that is a contention which would utterly violate the Trust set up for the people of Belize with the Accommodation Agreement money, and significantly reduce the number of projects to be funded for their benefit.

GOB will therefore employ all its will and all its resources to resist and defeat this new perfidy that the Alliance is attempting to perpetrate.