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Jul 19, 2019

“Cabinet Confidential’ Memo Shows Fiscal Incentives Given for Sanctuary Bay Project

Tonight, we take a closer look at the millions of dollars, as much as a whopping one hundred and fifty million, approved in tax concessions to the failed Sanctuary Bay development, which is listed with a U.S. address. It resulted in millions not collected when import duties were waived.  In a confidential memo to Cabinet, which confirms that government was well aware of the project, the incentives are named and so are the local players.  The legal firm representing the so-called developers is Barrow and Williams, which is now the receiver for the project. Here is News Five’s Hipolito Novelo.

 

Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

In early 2011, this ‘cabinet confidential’ document was reportedly presented to Cabinet. The purpose of the memo was to request cabinet’s approval of BELTRAIDE’s recommendation for Eco Future Belize to receive fiscal incentives for the Sanctuary Bay development project in Stann Creek. More than one hundred and fifty-seven million dollars in items had been requested by the enterprise to be exempted from import duty over the course of ten years. An estimated sixteen million dollars was not collected for a development project that will, not only, never be completed, but turned out to be the largest real estate fraud that the F.T.C. has investigated. But Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a recent press conference in which he denied the F.T.C. allegations, says that Cabinet has never discussed Sanctuary Bay.

 

Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Usher reported to Pukke that he ‘met with four ministers last week’ who promised a financial issue facing the development would be taken up at the Cabinet-level. What is the financial issue? Was it taken up? To what end? What happened? I can tell you no Sanctuary Bay development has ever been discussed at any Cabinet meeting that I have chaired and I have chaired all of them except when I was away in Cuba.”

 

PM Barrow, however, did not say anything about Eco Futures Belize Limited. In the F.T.C.’s civil suit against Atlantic International Bank Limited, a group of defendant companies are named including Global Property Alliance Inc., Sittee River Wildlife Reserve, and Eco-Futures Belize Limited.

 

On March twelfth, 2011, this Statutory Instrument for fiscal incentives was gazetted. The fiscal incentives were afforded to Eco Futures Belize Limited by way of an order made by U.D.P. Minister Erwin Contreras who was the Minister responsible for Investment at the time. The S.I. green lights infrastructure development by Eco Futures Belize Limited at Sanctuary Bay- a fourteen thousand acre property located in Stann Creek District, under the Fiscal Incentives Act. Eco Futures Belize is relieved from import duties. The company was permitted to import heavy duty equipment such as two crushers, dredgers, graders, bulldozers, fire trucks, thirty golf carts, catamaran, garbage truck and much more- all free of import duties.

 

Kareem Musa

Kareem Musa, Shadow Minister for Legal Affairs, P.U.P.

“It claims the Sanctuary Bay was investing some one hundred and eighty million dollars and they were giving them concessions that will result in losses. It says here the loss of revenue from the country of Belize fifteen million dollars, nine hundred and eighty six thousand dollars loss of revenue to our country for scam artists that were running a ponzi scheme in the country of Belize. Once again we have proof that the government facilitated Sanctuary Bay in their request.”

 

The document is signed by Minister Contreras- who the Federal Trade Commissioner also makes allegations against. According to the ‘cabinet confidential’ document, Eco Futures Belize Limited was believed to come with great benefits such as more than six million dollars in business tax, more than seventy-five million dollars in GST, and more than a hundred million dollars in foreign exchange. The government now won’t see a single cent. Scammers Andris Pukke and Luke Chadwick swindled more than a thousand US investors out of more than a hundred million dollars in a fail project. While construction kicked off, the F.T.C. said that Pukke and his co-scammer needed a half a billion dollars more to realize the project. The Principals listed in the ‘cabinet confidential’ document are Belizeans Alfonso Bailey, Christopher and John Usher- whom the Prime Minister says he has never met.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“As far as I can recollect my only encounter with Mr. Usher was at one of those economic development committee meetings that I held when from the back of the room he challenged about the fact that BEL was taking too long to electrify his project. I think that was the first, must have described it as Sanctuary Bay that was the first and only time I ever heard about Sanctuary Bay.”

 

This invoice dated October nineteen 2005 shows a bill sent by Barrow and Williams Law firm to Sanctuary Bay Limited for one thousand one hundred and ninety-two dollars. The Prime Minister’s law firm, which is also named in the F.T.C. files, provided professional services in incorporating Sanctuary Bay Limited as a company.  Oddly enough, the address of Sanctuary Bay Limited is listed as Number sixty-nine Emerald Bay, Laguna Beach, California. Now Barrow and Williams is also representing the U.S. Court-appointed receiver with respect to taking ownership of the Sanctuary Bay lands.

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Those lands don’t belong to A.I.B.L. you know. Those land belong to Sanctuary Bay and it is those land that the receiver appointed by the U.S. Court either will take custody off or has already taken custody of via the services of that excellent law firm, Barrow and Williams.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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