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Dec 12, 2016

B.T.L. Paid for Settlement Agreement Draftsmen, G.O.B. Claims

During the questions to Ministers portion of the House meeting, members from the Opposition fired several questions at their Government counterparts on issues of concern of either a national scope or more closely tied to their respective constituencies. It’s usually an occasion for political grandstanding on the Government’s part, but a few nuggets of information were teased out at this session. One of the first questions directed by Leader of the Opposition John Briceño at Acting Prime Minister Patrick Faber, concerning which lawyers drafted the B.T.L. Settlement Agreement with Dunkeld Investments, the British Caribbean Bank and B.T.L. Employees’ Trust managed by Dean Boyce. That agreement was signed by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in Miami over a year ago. After complaining that the length of the question was excessive under the Standing Orders, Faber proceeded to give an interesting answer.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition

“Now that the Caribbean Court of Justice has pronounced that the so-called B.T.L. Settlement Agreement was badly drafted and contrary to the Government of Belize’s interpretation that the second payment should be in Belize dollars, can the Prime Minister as the Minister of Finance inform this honorable House, who were the attorneys acting for the Government who either drafted and/or reviewed this agreement; who specifically within Government engaged these attorneys; what were the terms of such engagement; whether such engagement was put out to tender, and how much were these attorneys paid? And further, since there was a delay in the payment, what were the additional interest, penalties and legal costs that the Government of Belize had to pay?”

 

Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Acting Prime Minister

“Mr. Speaker, the simple answer to his question on who acted on behalf of the Government is that nobody acted on behalf of the Government; the lawyer was engaged by B.T.L. and not by the Government of Belize.”

 

John Briceño

“[He] didn’t finish answering the question, Mr. Speaker; how much did it cost the Government of Belize?”

 

Patrick Faber

“It cost the Government of Belize nothing; the Government of Belize did not engage any lawyers; nobody acted on the part of the Government of Belize to engage any lawyer; no monies were paid by the Government of Belize to the lawyer.”

 

Briceño, try though he might, did not get an answer to the question of how much extra was paid as a result of the delay with the first payment from the Settlement Agreement.

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