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Jan 13, 2017

Why G.O.B. will not pay arbitration awards (except maybe Newco’s)

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has been consistent in opposing payment of arbitration awards to the former B.C.B. Holdings and Belize Social Development Limited in respect of action over the Settlement Deed and Accommodation Agreement. The Government did not participate in the original arbitration hearings and when B.C.B. tried to enforce their award in Belize, the case went to the Caribbean Court of Justice, where it was defeated. Subsequently, B.C.B. and B.S.D.L., along with Newco Limited, tried another means of enforcement—the U.S. courts. This week, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the appeals of lower court judgments favouring B.C.B., B.S.D.L. and Newco, ensuring that the awards, totalling up to one hundred and twenty million dollars including interest, must now be paid. Today, the Prime Minister repeated his intent not to pay a penny to B.C.B. or B.S.D.L., but allowed that perhaps Newco had a case. More important for him is the loss of face if the region’s and Belize’s top court has suffered as a result.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I have to say that we resisted because in every case, the litigation arose out of the perfidy of the then-People’s United Party administration government. In the case of BSDL and BCB Holdings, in my view, that perfidy went both ways – both the giver and the taker of these absolutely horrendous deals were at the very least morally guilty of the worst kind of behaviour. I can’t say that about Newco. These people sued and as far as I can determine, had a perfect right to sue; but there were some issues in terms of whether in fact they had some tax liability in Belize that caused us to resist, and we have resisted as far as we can; now the Supreme Court has shut the door on any further review. The question of how we will handle the Newco judgment, let me leave aside for a minute; but I want to repeat that in terms of BSDL and the BCB Holdings – especially the BCB Holdings – we, this Government, have no intention, I repeat, of paying a penny.  They have put the Caribbean Court of Justice in an impossible position, where in fact U.S. courts, relying on the fact that they contracted with respect to these issues with eyes wide open, the U.S. courts are saying “We don’t care what the Caribbean Court of Justice has ruled. We will, in effect, disrespect the Caribbean Court of Justice.” That is what these people have caused.”

 

The Prime Minister continued by referring to the brief filed by CARICOM Secretary General Irwin LaRocque and the Cooperative Republic of Guyana to U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, Junior, supporting Belize’s view and warning of loss of face by the Caribbean Community. In the end, the U.S. Solicitor General declined to support Belize and the Supreme Court decided not to hear the cases.

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