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Jan 25, 2017

Belize Should Be Safe from Puerto Azul Fallout, Trade Minister Believes

Last week, we reported on the arrest of the principals of the proposed multimillion dollar Puerto Azul tourism project on the islands of Sand Bore and Northern Two Cayes in Belize. The eight-star ultra-luxury resort was a pyramid investment swindle that netted so-called developers Domenico Giannini and Fabio de La Rosa millions of dollars.  Giannini and several other persons were arrested in Italy and millions of dollars in assets were later frozen.   A massive investigation revealed that the group was operating a Ponzi scheme across Europe. On Friday, Minister Godwin Hulse, who is a member of the Cabinet Subcommittee for Investment, said that he wasn’t surprise when the scandalous news broke. But today, we asked Minister of State for Trade and Investment, Tracy Panton, if there are any implications in terms of foreign direct investments in Belize. Here’s what she has to say.

 

Tracy Panton

Tracy Panton, Minister of State, Trade & Investment

“We haven’t been involved with that project for a couple of years. I know that they had applied for an environmental impact assessment to be done and a terms of reference was reviewed and that is where the project stopped. There was no direct intervention from certainly the Ministry of Investment or BELTRAIDE with Puerto Azul for a couple of years now. We’ve heard some things from the international media but we all have to wait and see how that plays out and if in fact those things are indeed as they were presented. It is unfortunate when we have those kinds of incidents, but certainly we try as best as we can to do our due diligence—not only through BELTRAIDE but also through FIU and through the Central Bank—to ensure that investors that are coming are bonafide and we don’t find ourselves in that kind of situation.”

 

Duane Moody

“But you don’t feel that it affects relations or potential investments in the country?”

 

Tracy Panton

“I don’t have any indication of that as yet and maybe with time, we will have a better understanding. But no, I think bonafide investors understand the value of Belize; they know that there is a clear process and some predictability in the process. You know when investors follow that process; you know that they mean business. And so I don’t get that indication; yet it might change in the future, but I think it may be too early to tell.”

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