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Feb 3, 2017

BCB/Belize Bank and G.O.B. in Legal War over Arbitration

Developments have been happening fast and furious in terms of another arbitral award being contested between the Government of Belize and the former B.C.B. Holdings and the Belize Bank Limited. On Thursday, the Caribbean Court of Justice declined via order to hear an inter-party application for an anti-enforcement injunction. It was brought by Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte, seeking to attempt to prevent them from enforcing an arbitral award by the London Court of International Arbitration (L.C.I.A.) in respect of a commercial dispute between the companies and the Government in 2005. According to Senior Counsel Denys Barrow and Peyrefitte, the Government was advised that the C.C.J., having already issued a final judgment in 2013, had no jurisdiction to grant injunctive relief in the absence of a pending appeal before it. They were told to obtain relief in Belize’s Supreme Court, and this afternoon according to Barrow, they did. Even though the Belize injunction is in effect, Barrow told us that the question now is whether they will obey it. According to Barrow, B.C.B. and Belize Bank are presently applying for their own injunction in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, but the case has not been concluded.  The Dean Barrow administration, since 2008, has refused to honor the agreement and demanded the taxes owed for the two years under which the agreement was in place, leading to arbitration. A July 2013 judgment by the CCJ declined to enforce this award by the L.C.I.A. on the ground that enforcement in Belize would be contrary to public policy.  B.C.B. and Belize Bank then, however, successfully initiated proceedings in the United States to enforce the award in that country.  In related news, Attorney General Peyrefitte confirmed to News Five that the Government is talking to the principals of Newco Limited, the third winner of an arbitral award of about nine million dollars after a broken contract related to the management of the Philip Goldson International Airport.  Newco has not tried to enforce their award and Peyrefitte said that if enforcement is done in Belize, the company may just have a chance to recoup although he was quick to add that there is no settlement on the table and that Government is reserving its options for any future litigation.

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