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Sep 26, 2012

B.T.L. Employees Trust gets injunction barring issuance of dividends

Dean Boyce on behalf of the B.T.L. Employees Trust and British Caribbean Bank, scored a victory against the Government, preventing Telemedia from paying dividends to shareholders at an early annual general meeting scheduled for this Friday. Boyce and the Bank applied and were granted a hearing via video conference today by the Caribbean Court of Justice that ruled against the Government of Belize to restrain the declaration or payment of dividends. The decision was handed down just after ten this morning. The CCJ essentially instructed the government and Telemedia by extension that they cannot declare dividends before December fourteenth 2012. Attorneys Eamon Courtney, representing the Bank and Godfrey Smith, representing the B.T.L. Employees Trust, spoke with the media after the ruling was made. And while Courtenay was clear in saying that the early AGM was the government’s crude attempt to take money that rightfully belongs to the former owners of Telemedia; Smith said that the government has taken over the company, is in the driver’s seat, uses its profits and still refuses to pay compensation to its previous owners.

 

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for B.T.L. Employees Trust

“What the Caribbean Court of Justice decided to order today was that the respondents—meaning the Attorney General and the relevant minister—take all steps within their powers; whether directly or indirectly, to ensure that the agenda item dealing with declaration of dividends is adjourned to a time not before fourteenth of December of this year which will be one year. And the simple reason behind all of that is to preserve the status quo of the parties; preserve the assets.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for British Caribbean Bank

“I believe the judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice emphasized that there has been a significant change in circumstance. And the change in circumstance is that the board of Telemedia that is completely controlled by the government of Belize decided to bring forward the annual general meeting from December to the end of September. And the reason is obvious to everyone; they wanted to declare the dividends and to pay it to government before the Court of Appeal starts sitting on the eight of October. So they have been caught. So it was a crude attempt to take money that rightfully belongs to the previous shareholders of B.T.L. to pay it to the government—a government that has repeatedly confessed that it is bankrupt. Let us not forget that on the eleventh of June of this year, Mister Justice Legall struck down the second nationalization. So that board that is sitting there—headed by Mister Vasquez and all of them—are there unlawfully. They want to order dividends and to take it and pay it to a government that is not only bankrupt, but its shareholding that it took in 2011 is also declared null and void by Justice Legall. So to put it very directly; the Caribbean Court of Justice has done justice. They can see that an unlawful and illegal board is attempting to take millions of dollars that does not belong to them and pay it to a bankrupt government.”

 

Daniel Ortiz, 7News

“Your claim in the Court of Appeal, can you tell us what is the effect of this decision from CCJ in respect to that matter that has not been heard as yet?”

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith

“The CCJ was very careful to point out throughout the submissions that it wanted to avoid entirely getting into any of the merits as it were leaked into the deliberations before the Court of Appeal so that really it should have no impact on the actual matters of substance before the Court of Appeal—that which is scheduled for October eighth.  Anybody who has a small business in Belize, who is making a little bit of profits, will understand how the original shareholders of B.T.L. feel. A government walks in, takes over your little business, sits in your manager’s chair, drives your vehicles, use the little profits that come in and three years later you are not paid anything for it. All that we are attempting to do is get the court—and happily they have done so—to step in and say look this is a serious constitutional legal issue. Let us hold the assets so that we don’t reach a stage where a few months from now we find that even the second acquisition was entirely unlawful and when we order them to pay damages for loss of dividends we find that the government is broke having spent all the dividends on servicing government programs or as was reported earlier in January on servicing constituency allocations for standard bearers to the tune of forty thousand dollars per standard bearer.”

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1 Response for “B.T.L. Employees Trust gets injunction barring issuance of dividends”

  1. Storm says:

    The nationalizations were foolish, since the nation cannot afford it. It would have been better just to enact strict, fair, and transparent regulations and control it without buying it with more money we don’t have.

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