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Dec 14, 2012

Put it back! But government refuses CCJ order

Eamon Courtenay

We reported on Thursday that the Court of Appeal had dismissed an application by Dean Boyce and the British Caribbean Bank to prohibit Telemedia from paying dividends arising from this year’s Annual General Meeting. We also reported that, on the heels of that decision, the Caribbean Court of Justice had issued a notice late in the evening that it would be looking into the matter of dividends at nine o’clock this morning. Well, it did via teleconference, and in a dramatic development, government’s attorney Denys Barrow informed the CCJ that Telemedia had paid dividends of more than eleven million dollars at five minutes past eight this morning, less than an hour before the CCJ was scheduled to hear the matter. The CCJ judges recessed briefly to consider this and when they returned it was to deliver an equally dramatic decision.  The Court chastised the government, stating that the CCJ’s role as Belize’s final court of appeal should be respected and that government had not acted properly in rushing to pay out the dividends knowing that the CCJ was scheduled to hear the matter one hour later. The CCJ ordered G.O.B. to pay an amount equivalent to the dividends that had been paid out into an escrow account at the Central Bank or a commercial bank and to do so by two o’clock pm this afternoon. Attorneys Eamon Courtenay and Godfrey Smith explained today’s decision.

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for British Caribbean Bank

“As we indicated yesterday, the Court of Appeal had dismissed the application for the injunctions and you will remember that in September, what he Caribbean Court of Justice had said was that Telemedia was not to deal with the question of dividends before the fourteenth of December, which is today. We came to court this morning and Mr. Barrow informed the court that at eight-oh-five this morning, the Belize Telemedia apparently paid out the dividends. I think you were present in court and you can see that the court, to quote the president “is very troubled by what happened”. The president went as far as to say it should not have happened. The truth of the matter is that what we have here is a continuation of the rogue like behavior. It is that the government of Belize believes that they are above the law. The Supreme Court of this country, the Court of appeal of this country have ordered that the legislation by which they have compulsorily taken possession of this property is unconstitutional. Nevertheless, they remain in control of this property and this company and now they are, in the face of a court order, attempting to pay out the money. You saw the court order them to pay back the money by two o’clock this afternoon and Mr. Barrow attempting to tell the court that he could not assure them that it would be done by two o’clock. I think he tested the patients of the court and eventually the court said that they are reverting to the order and it must be paid by two o’clock this afternoon and we will deal with this in January.”

 

Godfrey Smith

Godfrey Smith, Attorney for Dean Boyce

“The court stopped short of holding the government in contempt but left no doubt in any body’s mind. The president’s opening words were that its role as the final court of appeal of Belize was not being respected and shortly after that the president also mentioned that they felt that the government had not acted as it should in this matter. So it did not hold the government in contempt but effectively, the dramatic and natural decision that the government repays the money, an equivalent amount, is sufficient sign for anyone to see that it takes very seriously what the government has done.”

 

Eamon Courtenay

“If it wasn’t the government of Belize; if it was some private person, you would be hearing contempt and jail. The Caribbean Court of Justice sent out an order roughly at four o’clock yesterday saying that they were going to hear this matter urgently this morning. So the government knew full well that this matter was coming before the court at ten o’clock this morning. To pretend that they can get away with an act of contempt and in defiance of the rule of law, what you saw play out this morning was the Caribbean Court of Justice restraining itself and saying listen you are troubling us with what you are doing. Pay the money by two o’clock and pay it into an account so that we can adjudicate on this matter as we ought properly to have done. The long and short of it is this; even though the Court of Appeal has handed down this decision it didn’t give us the reasons and therefore, we have to see the reasons to see whether or not there is a further appeal to be heard and that is why the CCJ said okay they will hear this morning to preserve the position. So hopefully now, we will get the reasons shortly then in January we can decide whether we will have the appeal or what we’re going to do. But the big point not to miss and I think the message from the Caribbean Court of Justice is that this government must understand that it is not above the law.”

 

News Five has learnt that following the decision, Barrow, wrote to the CCJ to say that all dividend payments had been stopped and that those monies were in Telemedia’s account. This means that the GOB has not complied with the clear and specific order of the CCJ to pay a sum equivalent to the dividends into an escrow account and could possibly amount to contempt of court. It remains to be seen how the CCJ will view this failure to comply with its order when the matter is reviewed on Monday, December seventeenth.

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8 Responses for “Put it back! But government refuses CCJ order”

  1. The world is watching says:

    This is the arrogance to the rule of law by the prime minister. Belize is headed into the abyss of socialism and Barrow is following his hero “Chavez”.

    Remember: The World is Watching..

  2. Lawless says:

    LAWLESS!

    That’s a fit description of Barrow’s GOB.

    1. It fails to pay the nation’s sovereign debt.

    2. It puts murderers on the payroll.

    3. The national books are incomplete and fraudulent.

    4. It seizes private companies without paying for them.

    5. Forestry Department workers steal lumber using government equipment.

    6. The DPM gives away tracts of land to his family and friends with impunity.

    7. It tramples on the court and pays millions to its friends before this court hearing.

    I’m sure we can all extend the list if we have enough time and paper, it’s nearly endless.

    What should be done with such an outlaw regime?

  3. Eye in the Sky says:

    In a CIVILIZED country the Prime Minister and all others involved would have to resign and would face jail.

    This government thinks they are God and can do as they want.

    This has to be stopped before they destroy Belize even more.

    I think it is time to bring back the Queen and British rule.

  4. busha says:

    Just amazing how stupid and utterly sensless most beurocrats seem to be in Belize… thing is, you take them out of Belize and they are quite sensible. I know plenty of Belizeans who hold quite respectable and responsible jobs at big banks and they dont make these kinds of stupid moves…. I think its just being in Belize… make u feel lawless… What a bunch of @$$holes…

  5. Louisville,Ky says:

    I noh gat wah kappa eena dat ih deh dalla….. soh me no gat nothn fu seh!!
    Who bex…. bex! dats all

  6. Artful says:

    Barrow cannot even touch Chavez. Chavez is a true leader…not a play boy…

  7. ceo says:

    Bad example by the GOB! How will we be able to encourage the Guats to go to court when we set the example that we will do what ever the heck we want to anyway?

  8. ceo says:

    I was talking about the border despute. If we do not follow the dictates of our own judicial system can we expect others to? They knew the mater was before the court for review.

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