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Oct 28, 2015

Former Business Senator Says Senate Did Not Receive Documents on BECOL Agreements

Mark Lizarraga

The opposition, People’s United Party disclosed on Tuesday what it calls a secret deal between the Prime Minister of Belize and the Canadian company, Fortis. According to the P.U.P., the secret deal is contained in a comfort statement signed after the settlement was gazetted. In August, the Prime Minister announced at a press conference that the deal for compensation in the nationalization of Belize Electricity Limited involved a seventy-million-dollar payment and thirty-three percent of shares to be retained by Fortis.  P.U.P. Senator Lisa Shoman said on Tuesday that the PM gave more to Fortis than was announced and that he did not disclose to the National Assembly that the settlement also included a security blanket giving Fortis’ subsidiary, Belize Electric Company Limited, protection against the courts, the Public Utilities Commission and any other party. Today, Mark Lizarraga, who was the senator for the business community when the compensation package was ratified, said that he did not know of the comfort statement.


Mark Lizarraga, Former Business Senator

“I did a quick review of my senate documents and I had recalled making mention in my presentation in the senate about documents I saw signed on the eleventh of September and documents, obviously on the sixteenth when it was presented to the House.  But I went over my files, and I brought them, and in nowhere in my files was this document that was signed on September eighth.  I had raised the point that there were a couple of, I think, certainly at least one that I recall, one document that I referred to in the documents that we were presented, an agreement that spoke to the returns that were being promised.  And that document was not present.  I have never seen this document of the eighth of September, I was sent a copy which I printed because I asked my colleagues if they had gotten it and they said no.  Anyhow, so I was given this copy, I had never seen this document.  Certainly had I seen it I would have commented that it was signed by an attorney and I don’t know what authorization this person had to sign.  So I have never seen this document before… Well, I’m not an attorney but from reading it I would wonder why B.E.L. would need so much legal indemnity, you know.  That concerns, the fact that, anyhow, I prefer not to get into that until I have gotten some sufficient legal advice on it.  But certainly this document was never presented to the senate… And I have not gotten advice on that document before and I normally get advice on all the documents that I receive.”


After the P.U.P. announcement, the Prime Minister said that he had full disclosure of the entire package settlement with Fortis. 

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