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Dec 7, 2017

Bank Tells A.G. Gov’t Can’t Hide from U.H.S. Debt

Acting for the Belize Bank Limited, the Courtenay Coye LLP firm has written Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte regarding enforcement of the November twenty-second order of the Caribbean Court of Justice to repay the ninety million dollar judgment, principal and interest, in respect of a Government-guaranteed loan to Universal Health Services. First, the letter states that the order is binding on the Government and that after twenty-one days upon certification of the amount, per the Crown Proceedings Act, the Government is expected to pay. But the bulk of the letter concerns questions as to the recent public statements made by Prime Minister Dean Barrow and other U.D.P. area representatives which it charges show, “a misunderstanding of the Order and its effect, and, what is worse, a disrespect for the rule of law in Belize….such statements put their makers at risk of being held in contempt of court.”  Specifically, it takes dispute with the Prime Minister’s suggestion that the National Assembly can view Government’s liability for payment differently from the C.C.J. and thus avoid compliance with the order, and that the matter remains under dispute. The Bank contends that the P.M.’s legal advice is wrong, and that obeying the judgment of the court is part of the rule of law, and that the CCJ confirms the prior judgment of the Privy Council as to the validity of the UHS loan note in 2011 when it was the highest court in the land. The A.G. is asked to confirm that the Government will pay the funds as required within seven days of the receipt of this letter. The letter concludes that the statements by Barrow and his ministers are also directly contemptuous of our courts. It specifically cites Minister Michael Finnegan’s claim that Belize made a mistake to join the CCJ which he has said lacks conscience, among other things and asks the Attorney General to prevail on his colleagues to withdraw their statements and make a public apology. The Bank also states that it is prepared to return to the CCJ if necessary.

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