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Jul 22, 2016

Government is Headed to CCJ for Interpretation of B.T.L. Arbitration Award

Just when you thought that the B.T.L. acquisition fiasco had been settled, the Ashcroft Group and the Government of Belize are headed back to the courts for an interpretation of the arbitration award.  Both parties are to appear before the Caribbean Court of Justice in the days ahead to get a clarification on the dollar amount and currency to be spent.  On June twenty-ninth, Prime Minister Dean Barrow, via press conference, publicly disclosed the details of the arbitration award, following the acquisition of B.T.L. in 2009.  But well before that, on May eleventh, government and its attorneys received a copy of the draft award, but did not challenge the amount to be paid.  And two weeks ago, in accordance with the award, G.O.B. made an initial payment in the range of two hundred million Belize dollars.  The balance of the substantial four hundred million dollar debt, interest included, is due within a year.  Tonight, however, G.O.B. has issued a release saying that it is once again at odds with the Ashcroft Group concerning the compensation award.  The bone of contention surrounds the exchange rate applied by the Arbitral Tribunal.  Furthermore, G.O.B. contends that the tribunal erred in its calculation of the interest, resulting in significant sums being awarded than were justified.  Government has until July twenty-eighth to seek an adjustment as such its lawyers are in the process of filing that application.  A question of the currency split has also arisen following the payment of the first half of the award on July eighth.  G.O.B. says that the tribunal divided the award into a forty-sixty ratio; forty percent of the total representing the non-Accommodation Agreement portion and sixty percent representing the Accommodation Agreement portion.  But government’s interpretation is that the lion’s share of the total figure is owed in Belize dollars and can only be spent to fund projects in Belize for the benefit of Belizeans.  An application has since been made to the Caribbean Court of Justice for an interpretation.

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