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Feb 24, 2017

Getting to the Bottom of the Arbitral Awards

Lord Michael Ashcroft’s interview with News Five this week touched on a wide range of topics but the one of most current interest is the various arbitral awards under litigation in the United States.  The U.S. courts in Washington D.C. have approved BCB Holdings and the Belize Bank to attempt to enforce their award over the Universal Health Services deal, while Belize Social Development Limited and Caribbean Investment Holdings are gearing up for possible court action in the coming days.  Aaron Humes reports on Lord Ashcroft’s side of the story.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

Of the more than one hundred million dollars and counting that the Government owes to the various companies waging fights in the U.S. over arbitral awards handed down in London, Lord Michael Ashcroft told our Marleni Cuellar this week that he has a financial interest in only two of them – but there are many others.

 

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“I am not a shareholder in that; the principal shareholders are the Heyward Charitable Trust and the Employees’ Trust of B.T.L. The Carlisle one is in which I do have a financial interest through my shareholding in Carlisle – but that is a public company that has a few thousand shareholders in it. The other one, the genesis is the U.H.S. one, which is a bank deal from the Belize Bank, which I clearly have an interest in.”

 

As for the separate awards themselves, B.S.D.L. – essentially the former shareholders of B.T.L. – are weighing their next options but Ashcroft made clear that the reserves are not under attack.

 

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“I have no personal interest in the share capital of B.S.D.L. The shareholders of B.S.D.L. are the original shareholders of Telemedia – so that is the Heyward Charitable Trust and then the Employees’ Trust are the owners of that arbitration award.”

 

Marleni Cuellar

“What are your options for the judgment to be enforced?”

 

Michael Ashcroft

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“That is for B.S.D.L. to decide, how they’re going to take it forward; but there was a bit of an overreaction by the Government of Belize, in terms of talking about attacking Belize’s reserves; the laws in the United States make it quite clear that you cannot go after a sovereign nation’s foreign currency and reserves; so I think that rhetoric was to get the crowd a little bit uptight, as if somebody was going after the trade of the whole of Belize, brining economic collapse and all the rest of it.”

 

The BCB Holdings/Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited award is similarly tied to the B.S.D.L. award and to the B.T.L. settlement.

 

Lord Michael Ashcroft [File: February 23rd, 2017]

“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 right 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.”

 

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.”

 

For companies and corporations that have waited many years, that wait goes on. Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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