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Jun 24, 2015

S.S.B. Explains Loans to Companies Allegedly Operated by John Zabaneh

Did the Board of Directors of the S.S.B. approve loans to Belizean businessman and banana magnate Johnny Zabaneh? That’s the report which came out of the S.S.B. last week, and it’s of interest because in 2012, Zabaneh was sanctioned by the U.S. under the Kingpin Act, for his alleged connection to the Sinoloa Cartel and alleged narcotics trafficking activity. That sanction means that no local bank or credit union will deal with Zabaneh, at least not directly, and that has put a hurting on his business in Belize. But did the S.S.B. openly defy that US imposed sanction? News Five put the question to S.S.B. Chairman Doug Singh. He confirmed that the S.S.B. has approved loans to Meridian Enterprises Limited and Diverse Development Limited, but those companies passed through due diligence with flying colours.

 

Douglas Singh

Douglas Singh, Chairman, Social Security Board

“When they were made there were some concerns because of the possible involvement of Mr. Zabaneh as a party to the loans. I will tell you that those loans do not have Mr. Zabaneh in any part of it. He is not the owner or shareholder of any of those entities. He is not the surety or the guarantor for any of those entities or the loan and he is not…in context of Social Security, Social Security normally requires land as security. He is not the owner of any of those properties. Those properties belong to a company that has two shareholders, none of which are him, and the land belongs to I believe his mother. That is the security. Now whether or not Mr. Zabaneh operates in some administrative capacity there is neither here nor there with me, but he is not a party to the transactions. The two loans are in the productive sectors in this country…the banana industry and in the citrus industry – both of which require expansion, require throughput and require continuous planting. If I am not mistaken, one of the facilities that the funds were approved for is one of the largest banana farms in Belize, and in respect of the citrus is one of the largest ones. The other one I think in respect to the banana is the largest…in respect to the citrus it is one of the largest that belongs to Myrtle Sheran. Those are industries that Social Security believes it is important to support. They employ over three hundred people. If because of an inability to raise financing those companies would go under it would affect this country tremendously, and those are the kinds of things that Social Security was established to do, and those are the kinds of programs that it is interested in lending into. As far as repayment, loans in those sectors are always paid through deduction order from the processor. So if it is the Banana Growers Association or the Banana Processing company…BGA, I think it would be, the Banana Growers Association, monies would be deducted at the time the product is delivered there, and those funds are remitted to the lender. Similarly with citrus, it goes to the Citrus Products of Belize Limited and funds are deducted and are paid directly. So to a great extent the strength of the loan is based on A, the fact that they are producing and B, that they have the capacity to deliver and that they don’t control the funds – the funds come directly out of the proceeds that they would have received and go straight to the lending institution.”

 

According to Singh, he cannot speak to a reaction or possible repercussions from the U.S., but the S.S.B. is comfortable enough with the checks made to ensure that the companies which received the loans are not, at least in any black and white way, connected to John Zabaneh.

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3 Responses for “S.S.B. Explains Loans to Companies Allegedly Operated by John Zabaneh”

  1. PuebloUnido says:

    What a croc of bulls*%#t Doug!!!! So, Mr. Z’s name does not appear on the documents. Does his daughter know about the farming? does his mother operate the day to day farm operations? SO, technically, the sanctioned Zab is not a principal of the loan but his family is???????????

  2. ned says:

    It is a shame when we allow the US to control us in Belize. We are proud to be Belizeans and we will make sure our productive sector survives.

  3. farmer says:

    it is ok Doug. You Lent the money to John Z. , don’t be ashamed of that. He is a Belizean, to hell with the gringos.

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