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Nov 1, 2017

Audit Shows ‘Different Level’ of Alleged Corruption in B.D.F.

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow this afternoon lent his support to a full investigation of Belize Jungle Experience Limited.  The company is being audited by the Audit Department for appearing to defraud the government and the Belize Defence Force of monies paid for the training of German soldiers in Belize’s jungles between 2015 and 2017.  For the year 2016, some thirty-six B.D.F. staff members were involved in the training under Lieutenant Colonel Charlton Roches. But some expenses, including salaries and the use of the then-non-functional helicopter fleet, were wrongly reported and paid for.  P.M. Barrow referenced past army scandals including the loss of weaponry in saying that it is time for corrupt activities to be rooted out of the national defence force.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I only know what I saw, but I will speak to the Minister of Defence and the officials in the ministry. Clearly there is a need for a thoroughgoing investigation, and I am positive – I will certainly insist that no stone is left unturned to get to the bottom of this. It sounds and looks bad but I guess final judgment must be suspended until the investigation is concluded.  But investigation there will be. The whole thing is murky; that’s the rub, isn’t it, that there is a suggestion that parallel enterprises were being run – one in the name of the Government, one in the name of this private company. It must be sorted out.”

 

Reporter

“Are you concerned, just from a nationalist perspective? We know that we always see the B.D.F. as a disciplined force, but the same incident – I’ll say his name because I spoke to him on the phone – Major Burns was in contact, someone from your Ministry as well was in contact with Sarco Torres when these decommissioned uniforms were found, but he was in text contact talking about who should be where on certain operations. Is it something that concerns you, that perhaps a culture of criminality or at least a less than strict adherence to high standards of integrity may have crept into the high command of the B.D.F.?”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Of course it does. But – not that it helps – it wouldn’t be the first time. Guns have gone missing, various incidents have happened over the years; fortunately not frequently. This one does seem to rise to a different level and so it is troubling. I would hope that we can sort it out and root out, even if it is incipient, even if it is just at that level starting in the B.D.F.”

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