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Feb 23, 2017

Ashcroft Says His Good Turn on B.T.L. Was Rejected and Will Cost Belize Heavily

Michael Ashcroft

Much of the half a billion dollar settlement has to do with the Accommodation Agreement signed seven years earlier. That in turn reaches back to the mid-2000’s when Jeffrey Prosser was in charge at B.T.L. but was unable to come up with finance to complete his purchase. The Government, at the time, turned to Lord Ashcroft and the result has echoed through the years.  For Ashcroft it is as simple as getting his money back.

 

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“The so-called Accommodation Agreement was no more or no less than the terms that the Government had already agreed to give to Mister (Jeffrey) Prosser or had already given to Mr. Prosser, and the purpose of it was to buy the shares, to re-organize it quickly, and to find an international buyer. And so the cost of those shares was somewhere between a hundred and a hundred and twenty million U.S. dollars around that time. But the Accommodation Agreement was an integral part. We managed to obtain an offer from an international telephone company, Cable and Wireless, for over three hundred million dollars; but it needed the Government to agree that purchase. And that then fell into problems when the Government decided they did not like the Accommodation Agreement. Had that agreement gone ahead, there would have been a profit of over two hundred million U.S. dollars, that would have been converted into Belize dollars, for the benefit of Belizean charities and the employees. The problem has now been that because it has taken seven years in order to get to a point of compensation, and now with funding interest, there is very little profit that has been left, and I think it has been a very sad case of what has happened through the particular process.  It’s important to understand that this was a settlement agreement in which Carlisle agreed to waive certain claims that it had on the Government and release it from some of the warranties that were given by the Government, and in return were given certain tax concessions. And that was then challenged by the Government and it went all the way up to the Caribbean Court of Justice; but one of the clauses within that Settlement Agreement was that the Government would take all necessary steps to effect that Agreement. And what the Caribbean Court of Justice said, was that the Government failed to put it through to the House of Representatives and on that particular basis, they couldn’t enforce it. So, because it’s a London award, Carlisle does have the option of enforcing it in any jurisdiction. So though the Belize courts may say that it’s against public policy, we’ve shown that in the U.S. courts and the U.K. courts, they have taken a different view on public policy. So that one sits now, that Carlisle does have the permission of the courts of the U.S. to take it to the next stage; now where it goes from here, we don’t know, and Carlisle will discuss that with its advisers as to where to go; or, at some point, there may be some sensible discussion with the Government of Belize in order to compromise it and get it out of the way but who knows what the future holds.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“So you would be willing to settle?”

 

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“I’ve always said that on all these cases, there is always a willingness to find a settlement; and I’m a great believer in compromise and I am a great believer in the old Chinese expression that you always give the other person ‘face’ – in other words, you don’t try to humiliate one side or the other.”

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