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Nov 8, 2017

Will Employees’ Trust Let the Sunshine In?

Dean Barrow

While the final payment for the B.T.L. nationalization is to be met by Friday, there is still one more related case that may head to court.  That is Sunshine Holdings—the company which acquired shared in B.T.L. using a Social Security loan in 2005. The Caribbean Court of Justice had rejected an application from the company to intervene in the final appeal between the Government of Belize, Dunkeld International Investment Limited and the Belize Telemedia Limited Employees Trust.  Sunshine was previously owned by the Employees’ Trust and nationalized by the government as part of its 2009 and 2011 acquisitions of Telemedia properties.  Government wanted to have the compensation due to the Trust paid to Sunshine to satisfy the ten million-dollar loan from Social Security.  Since the Government now owns both the company and the shares, it’s almost like the government paying itself. But might it work? A case is expected to be filed in the Supreme Court in the near future, although Financial Secretary Joseph Waight says it is still being considered. We revisit that portion of the Prime Minister’s statement for the rationale for the case.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow [November 2nd, 2017]

“That compensation in your hands, Mr. Trust, you’re holding that in trust for Sunshine. Because it doesn’t matter that you owned or you had the shares in Sunshine at the time. Sunshine is a separate legal vehicle, and the compensation should be paid to Sunshine. Alternatively, even if the compensation isn’t paid to Sunshine, you can’t get the compensation for the shares, for which we borrowed money to buy, and leave us with the liability to pay back the investment loans. So at the very least, we want you to pay back to Sunshine what was borrowed from S.S.B. so that Sunshine can in turn pay. So, I said the saga is finished. The saga is finished insofar as G.O.B. and the Ashcroft Alliance is concerned but Sunshine, my understanding is, will launch an action in the Supreme Court of Belize with that end in mind, to try to get the compensation or at least an amount to pay back S.S.B. the money borrowed for the investment.”

 

Joseph Waight

Reporter

“Are you able to share any insight into the Sunshine case? Has the Government made any steps in initiating that challenge against the Alliance?”

 

Joseph Waight, Financial Secretary

“Not to my knowledge, not yet; but the Government is considering its position.”

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