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May 11, 2018

Ain’t No Sunshine: Gov’t Company Shut Out of B.T.L. Compensation

After three days of litigation, Supreme Court Justice Courtney Abel issued a comprehensive judgment against Sunshine Holdings Limited’s claim for compensation, in respect of shares it owned in Belize Telemedia Limited before its acquisition in 2009, and again in 2011. At the minimum, it sought funds to satisfy a pair of loans owed to the Government and Social Security Board, which it had used to acquire the shares. Justice Abel ruled that there was no basis or merit in the suggestion that Sunshine has suffered any loss or detriment as a result of the totality of the compensation GOB paid for Sunshine’s acquisition. He added that he was far from satisfied that there is any basis for Sunshine to lay claim to any compensation for its assets. There was a reason why Sunshine never made a claim for compensation, the judge concluded – they simply had never considered it till now. It is a clear victory for the B.T.L. Employees’ Trust and Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay basked in it this afternoon.

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for B.T.L. Employees’ Trust

“I had started from yesterday saying this was a bizarre claim. And it was Sunshine, which is owned by the Government, suing the Trust and suing the Government, seeking to get compensation that had been paid by the Government to the Trust. So it was a rather circular situation: the Government’s company suing the Government and the Trust to get compensation from it. The judge refused to do that, accepting our submissions, because all the monies that had been paid over was paid over by way of the Settlement Agreement, which went to the National Assembly, was approved by the National Assembly; there were repeated challenges in the C.C.J. as to the amounts to be paid to the Trust and the C.C.J. approved the payments. So it was rather bizarre for us for Government to have Sunshine come here and try to get back some of the money – in fact they were claiming all of the money and in the alternative about fifty million dollars. The judge found that it was what he described as a colorable device, which in my words – not the judge’s words, in my words – borders on fraud. You cannot pay money to somebody under an agreement, approved by the court, and then a few months later get somebody to come on your behalf to get back that very same money. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: it’s a bizarre situation.”

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