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Jun 13, 2013

Secret contract? But Financial Secretary Joe Waight knew

Prime Minister Dean Barrow was very vocal about what he called a secret agreement between G.O.B. and Belize International Services Limited at his press conference on Wednesday. In his own words, the PM said that nobody was aware of that agreement, not legal counsel Gian Gandhi or the Financial Secretary or anybody in the public service.  Well apparently that’s not quite true. Mike Rudon has the story.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The Government of Belize is allegedly in breach of a contract signed with Belize International Services Limited, which operated the International Business Companies Registry and the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize, IMMARBE. BISL maintains that it currently holds a valid agreement to operate until 2020 on an extension granted in 2005. Government says that extension agreement was an infamous secret document concocted behind closed doors and privy only to BISL and signors for G.O.B. at the time, then Prime Minister Said Musa and then Attorney General Francis Fonseca. So G.O.B. has refused to honor the extension to June 2020 and has assumed control of the registries in question.

That’s for background, and now we turn to the documents. This agreement signed on March twenty-fourth 2005 between G.O.B. and BISL states that in consideration of a payment of one point five million dollars U.S., the Government agrees and confirms the extension of the duration of the Agreement to eleventh June 2020.

Six weeks after, on May thirteenth 2005, the Ministry of Finance issued a letter asking that one point five million dollars US payable by Belize International Services Limited be remitted to the Central Bank’s account at the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The purpose was explicitly stated as follows – for the purchase of the option to manage and operate the International Business Companies Registry and the Shipping Registry from 2003 to 2020.

The letter is signed by Joseph Waight for Financial Secretary and it was copied to the Hon. Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Governor of the Central Bank of Belize and the Legal Counsel in the Ministry of Finance, Gian Gandhi.

So fast-forward to the present and this letter sent to Belize International Services Limited from the Ministry of Finance. The letter refers to the agreement for extension and states, “We must say that we are appalled by this document which we have not seen before, as no copy could be found in our record.”

And with that the letter proceeds to instruct BISL that the government would assume control of the IBC Registry and IMMARBE with effect from June eleventh 2013. This letter is signed by Joseph Waight, the Financial Secretary. And yes, the Joseph Waight who is appalled at the agreement which he has never seen in his life is the same Joseph Waight who dealt with payment for that agreement in 2005. And we note for context that in 2005 the specific document which mentions the extension agreement was also copied to the governor of the Central Bank and the Legal Counsel in the Ministry of Finance.

In his press conference on Wednesday Prime Minister Barrow’s explanation was that his Financial Secretary must have had a memory lapse.

 

News Five attempted to get comment from Financial Secretary Joseph Waight today, but we were told that he is on leave. While it is now certain that the agreement of 2005 was not secret despite that assertion by Prime Minister Dean Barrow, it is just as certain that there will be a very protracted and expensive legal battle in the months ahead, as Belize International Services Limited has stated that because of the breach of contract, the Government will be liable for some sixty million dollars US in damages. 

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2 Responses for “Secret contract? But Financial Secretary Joe Waight knew”

  1. Jackie says:

    Thanks to the media houses who are unearthing this info and opening the eyes of the public to what is actually taking place in Govnt. Others would have believed upon hearing our PM saying this was a secret agreement and nobody knew of its existence. However, since the document has been brought to light, now who looks the bigger fool?

  2. beachman says:

    Too bad the GOB has millions of dollars to waste on lawsuits. Think how much the education system or health care could be reformed with $60,000,000.00 US????

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