Belize - Belize News - Channel5Belize.com - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Featured, Trials » FIU Loses In Court, Chief Justice Orders Titan Assets Unfrozen
Nov 10, 2014

FIU Loses In Court, Chief Justice Orders Titan Assets Unfrozen

The Supreme Court handed down a major decision today on a story that has been in the local and international headlines for months. On September twenty-fourth, the Financial Intelligence Unit froze assets held in Belize by of a group of five companies operating under Titans International Securities LLC. Their offices had been raided and documents as well as computers were carted away by police acting on behalf of the FIU.  The group of stock brokers was accused of money laundering, but charges were never filed against them. This morning, following a two-week trial, Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin ruled that all their assets held locally are to be unfrozen. A team of attorneys argued the case against the government, and there are early indications that G.O.B. can face suits for damages. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Financial Intelligence Unit, described by local attorneys as a functionary of the United States government in an ongoing case against Titan International Securities, suffered another major loss in court today.  This is in relation to legal proceedings in the wake of allegations involving a billion-dollar money laundering scheme which benefited U.S. stock investors.

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Rohn Knowles & Kelvin Leach

“Our application was a simple one to unfreeze all assets that were frozen by the government.  Very briefly, the court ruled that all the assets should be unfrozen, meaning the restraining order is completely discharged.  It did so on the basis of total lack of evidence to support the allegation made and the fact that if you wanted to restrain the assets you would have had to have charged our clients which they didn’t do.”

 

On September twenty-fourth, the FIU moved to embargo the assets of the beleaguered company, following a federal indictment of its principals in a New York court a few days earlier.

 

Michael Young

Michael Young, Attorney for Cem Can, Unicorn International Securities

“The freezing order which was issued on the September twenty-fourth, 2014 was issued against all properties of the respondents, including the particular monies on accounts which were identified in the application.  So it was a sweeping order against the property of the respondents in Belize.”

 

Those respondents include Bahamian nationals Rohn Knowles and Kelvin Leach, stockbrokers employed by Titan International Securities.  While the arraignment, in absentia, led to warrants being issued for the arrest and extradition of the accused men, their Coney Drive offices in Belize City were raided by local authorities, as well as the FIU.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for Kelvin Leach, Titan International Securities

“I think what is one of the very important points is the description of the Chief Justice of the devastating allegations made against all our clients without any substantiation, no evidence to support it; merely responding to a request from the United States.”

 

Godfrey Smith

“It is our view that this was prompted by the government of the United States, the cost of course will be borne by Belizean taxpayers, not the government of the United States.”

 

Senior Counsel Michael Young, who represents Cem Can, otherwise known as Jim Can, one of the accused businessmen, as well as Unicorn International Securities, says the FIU fell short of meeting the necessary requirements of the Money Laundering Act prior to freezing the assets.

 

Michael Young

“Fundamentally what occurred is that, and the court found this to be the case, the FIU moved to freeze property under the act when the requirements of the act were not met.  What they had before the court did not meet the threshold, the minimum threshold that is required before you take these steps against persons doing business in Belize.  So it’s a very important case.  As to what happens from here, at least the FIU has now received clear, statutory judicial guidance, if you want to put it that way, as to how their powers are to be exercised.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Certainly, since the indictment of Andrew Godfrey, Cem Can, Brian De Wit, Rohn Knowles, Robert Banfield and Kelvin Leach, Titan was forced to shut down its operations pending the outcome of the matter.  Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay says that an evaluation will be conducted before any action can be taken against government.

 

Eamon Courtenay

“One is first of all to take an assessment of the damage that has been done to their business, damage that has been done to their reputation and somebody has to pay for that.  That’s the first thing.  Secondly, as you know there is this request, a provisional request for the extradition of our clients, that is something that we still have on the table that has to be dealt with and so I think we would want to get beyond that before the clients are in a position to make definitive positions of where they want to go.  But I can say at this point that there will be certainly a damages claim against the Government of Belize.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Be Sociable, Share!


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Leave a Reply

CAPTCHA Image
*