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Nov 15, 2018

Valerie Woods Clears Her Name in Sittee River Wildlife Scam

Valerie Woods

Senator Valerie Woods is away in Ukraine attending a meeting of Parliamentarians for Global Action, but when her name began circulating earlier today, in respect of a scam involving the Sittee River Wildlife Reserve, she found it necessary to come forward and clear her name.  Woods, who was employed at the Belize Tourism Board in 2003 when the organization was formed, was named as a member of Sittee River Wildlife’s board of directors.  She told News Five today that for many years she was under the belief that the organization was defunct, since she was never called in for a meeting, nor was she sent minutes of any previous sessions.  In fact, she says that when she learned that the organization was still active, she tendered her resignation via email in February 2017.  Here’s her version of events.

 

On the Phone: Senator Valerie Woods

“And so without hesitation, I can let you know for the record that I am not, nor have I ever been an active director of the Sittee River Wildlife Reserve.  Fifteen years ago, I was approached by Mrs. Joan Medhurst whom I knew.  I worked with her through my time at the Belize Tourism Board and when she and her husband, Colin Medhurst retired and moved to Belize, we regained our friendship and she approached me and asked if I would be a member of the Sittee River Wildlife Reserve.  She described it as a non-profit, non-government organization that was to be a private wildlife reserve area.  Having known her for as long as I did and the work that she had done, I had no reason to doubt her genuine and legitimate intention and what she proposed and that has been done all over the world where you have private wildlife reserves.  And so I had agreed in 2003, to serve as a director and that is why my name showed up as the first directors on that list.  Since then, since 2003 I’ve had no dealings with Sittee River Wildlife Reserve, I was never contacted.  To be very clear, I was never informed of any board meetings of the N.G.O., any activities, any decisions, in fact I didn’t even know that the board of the N.G.O. was still functioning.  I just assumed that it just really never got off and it was defunct.  I heard or I became aware only until February of 2016, which is when I learned from the management of the reserve that I was still listed on the registry of directors and members.  This came as a complete surprise to me because I was not aware that either the board of the N.G.O. or the reserve was operational.  So I immediately sent in my resignation.  I was asked if I wanted to continue being a member, but I can’t be a member of something that I thought never existed and I can’t continue being the member of a board where clearly I wasn’t even informed of board meetings all this time.  So the question of continuing wasn’t even up for discussion.  I felt it necessary to clarify because I don’t want it ever to be misconstrued or stated that I am a part of this horrible scam that has presented itself.”

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