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Jul 20, 2011

Lord Ashcroft has no interests in SpeedNet

On Tuesday morning, Lord Michael Ashcroft discussed a number of issues in a one hour interview for our morning show that was broadcast live from Miami. Following the show, the station was flooded with requests for a repeat of the Open Your Eyes show since only the government’s perspective had been heard regarding the acquisitions of B.T.L., B.E.L., investment climate, and a slew of economic, legal and constitutional issues unraveling in real-time in Belize. In tonight’s newscast we look back at Ashcroft’s responses to hard questions put to him.  We start with the issue of charitable trusts and whether or not Ashcroft has an economic interest in SpeedNet, which owns SMART.

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“I think it’s very, very important that the viewers realize that this is not a fight between the government and Michael Ashcroft. This is a fight between the government and the employees trust of B.T.L. and the charitable trust of B.T.L.  The charitable trust is for Belizean causes. So this is a fight between Belizeans and I actually don’t have a dog in this race other than doing my best in order to maximize the amount that the employees and the good causes in Belize are able to have from that first nationalization.”

Marleni Cuellar

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“There has been a challenge in being able to have the wider public understand the differentiation between a Michael Ashcroft backed company and a company backed by these trusts. How do you make that distinction?”

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“Well, the distinction is very clear. It’s whether I have an economic interest. In other words, do I own any of the shares and therefore, d I have an interest in the outcome. And as far as B.T.L. is concerned, from the very day that I sold out during the P.U.P. administration, I have not had an interest in the shares of B.T.L.  Therefore, I am involved more as an advisor and as a strategist. And how the government then portrays that as it’s my ownership and this is the rhetoric and the propaganda that the government puts out to try to make this appear to be a fight between a foreign investor and local and nationalistic interest whereupon that’s a total lie.  I have no economic interest in SpeedNet at all and I think if you take a look at the words they have used, they talk about an Ashcroft alliance, they use all sorts of words to describe it. But the bank itself is a chief lender to SpeedNet. But the bank is non-political; the bank will lend to U.D.P. businessmen, P.U.P. businessmen and will help businessmen of both parties, anybody that is within the Belize Chamber of Commerce; whatever their political affiliations can go and do business with the Belize Bank.”

Marleni Cuellar

“I want you to clarify because you’ve said it twice already; you said you have no economic interest. Does that mean that you have not invested?”

Lord Michael Ashcroft

“I have not invested in SpeedNet, nor has any company that I own or my family. The only economic relationship that I have indirectly with SpeedNet is through the loans of the Belize Bank. But I am no longer even a director of any of the companies within that group and I don’t handle that account or know the details of it.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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