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Sep 27, 2006

Citrus deal faces another hurdle

In news from the Stann Creek Valley, continued controversy in the citrus industry has led to yet another lawsuit, this time against the Citrus Growers Association. Reports from industry sources are that last week attorney Lois Young-Barrow, acting on behalf of citrus farmer Oscar Ramirez, filed for an injunction, asking the Supreme Court to delay its ruling on the restructuring of Citrus Products of Belize Limited. That company is owned by the members of the Citrus Growers Association. We understand tonight that the injunction has been granted, with a new court date for the decision set for October fourth. As we have previously reported, the C.G.A. had asked the Supreme Court to remove the negative retained earnings on C.P.B.L.’s books … a move that would enable the company to begin to issue dividends on current profits. But allegations against the board of the C.G.A. are that dividends need to be issued as part of a guaranteed rate of return on investment to a group of Caribbean investors who have signed an agreement with the association. In May, the C.G.A. and Blue Waters Limited brokered a deal that would see the purchase of close to forty-seven percent of the shares in C.P.B.L. for twenty-five million Belize dollars. The money has not yet changed hands as the international group is waiting for the Supreme Court ruling. The process began to sour in August when growers learned the details of the agreement and some objected that the deal was too favourable to the investors. At a special general meeting held earlier this month, a five man team was appointed to review the agreement. Their findings are expected to be presented to the C.G.A. membership in October.

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