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Oct 31, 2017

John Briceño Says New B.D.F. Probe is Latest in Corruption Chain

The Auditor General is on the case of a senior officer of the Belize Defence Force who is being questioned on whether his private company benefited from an inside connection in the training of a troop of German soldiers in 2015 and 2016.  C.E.O. in the Ministry of Defence Felix Enriquez has confirmed to News Five that an investigation is underway, but declined further comment. However, News Five has obtained further details of the company, known as Belize Jungle Experience, and its role in the situation. Company owner Lieutenant Colonel Charlton Roches was the Force’s liaison officer for the trainings in 2015, 2016 and 2017, but only 2016 was audited. We understand that some thirty-six staff participated in the 2016 training and were assigned a temporary salary – but they were never paid. A cost of one hundred thousand dollars was also assessed by the company for standby or emergency use of the Force’s two helicopters – except that the helicopters were not operational at that time – had not even been assembled – and pilots had been doing qualification flights in early 2017.  The total paid by the Germans was eight hundred thousand dollars to the Force and the Lieutenant Colonel was paid from that but he primarily used B.D.F. materiel – vehicles, drivers, fuel, food – from Price Barracks for the course and invested nothing and delivered nothing. Still yet, the company which is registered at number seventeen Berkeley Street in Belize City is actually the home of Roches; however it conducts business at mile one and a half on the George Price Highway, which the audit says is the home of Margaret Flowers, a relative of Roches. At the time the company was allowed to operate, Brigadier General David Jones was at the head of the B.D.F.  Citing a litany of instances of Government corruption, today Opposition Leader John Briceño called on the Government to respond to this latest instance.

 

John Briceño

John Briceño, P.U.P. Leader

“Unfortunately, we have not seen the report; I have heard of the same allegations and I saw a snippet of what you have just mentioned. And I think it the responsibility of the Minister of Finance to provide us in the House these reports, so then we can take a look. And I am sure that the Government would try to do anything possible to ensure that does not see the light of day, or probably may even try to see how best they can try to sanitize it; yet it is so bad that it’s very difficult to sanitize.”

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