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Aug 31, 2004

Will ICC’s problems affect Belize deal?

And in related news, there may be serious implications for the local telecom scene following an administrative ruling in the U.S. Virgin Islands. It seems that BTL owner Jeffrey Prosser is no better at avoiding controversy than his predecessor, Michael Ashcroft. The latest news from St. Thomas is that the Virgin Islands Public Services Commission has issued a stop order to prevent Prosser’s Innovative Telephone from spending any more of an eighty-one million dollar payment it received from the sale of preferred stock earlier this year. The unusual appeal to the PSC came from the Virginia based Rural Telephone Finance Cooperative, a non-profit corporation that arranges financing for rural telecom companies. The RTFC claims that Innovative owes it more than five hundred and fifty million dollars and, in a lawsuit filed in Virginia on June first, demands the eighty-one point eight million from the stock sale. Innovative has denied that it owes RTFC anything. Earlier this year Innovative lent twenty-eight point five million US dollars to BTL and RTFC’s attorneys allege that it is about to send another thirty-two million any day now. While confirming the earlier loan, Innovative denied knowledge of any planned thirty-two million dollar transfer. And while we in Belize are not directly involved in the Virgin Islands wrangling, the question arising is that with Prosser yet to finish paying for BTL and about to buy INTELCO, where will the money come from? The answer, most likely, is debt…which brings us to the next question: will ICC’s newly acquired debt be guaranteed by the government and Social Security Board? News 5 asked ICC’s public relations department for details of the INTELCO sale, but were told that no comment would be forthcoming until the sale agreement is complete.

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