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Jul 22, 2019

News Five Journeys to Sanctuary Belize; PM Speaks On Cabinet Confidential Memo

Sanctuary Bay is quite a beautiful place. Well, this is what the Prime Minister was told and undoubtedly what recidivist scammer Andris Pukke and associates used to convince more than one thousand U.S. investors to depart with their life savings and pump their hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars in the project.  As part of our ongoing investigations into the scam and how it all played out, News Five traveled to Sanctuary Belize in the Stann Creek District.  Members of the Sanctuary Bay Security denied our team’s request for access to proceed further into the failed development.  The development, according to the F.T.C., took in more than one hundred million dollars, which Pukke and co-scammers swindled and spent on lavish items and trips.  The F.T.C. halted the scam in November 2018 and launched a civil case against Atlantic International Bank Limited, which has now been closed down. A group of companies was named in the suit including Eco Futures Belize Limited, which did business on behalf of Sanctuary Bay.  In 2011, Cabinet granted Eco Futures Belize fiscal incentives. In a recent press conference, Prime Minister Dean Barrow denied that Cabinet discussed Sanctuary Bay.  But on Friday, the Prime Minister confirmed that Eco Futures Belize Limited was granted fiscal incentives for a project at Sanctuary Bay and not Sanctuary Bay, the company. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.


Hipolito Novelo, Reporting

The Reserve, or Sanctuary Belize, sits on a fourteen thousand acre plot of land along the sea, in the Stann Creek District. Construction of what was supposed to be a haven for more than a thousand American investors, began but recidivist scammer Andris Pukke and associates needed an additional a half billion dollars to complete the project. News Five journeyed to the location of the fail project, where the dreams of the American investors died- a cemetery of lies and deceit.

The road leading to Sanctuary Belize was indicative that it would have led us to some sort of retirement community. But members of the Sanctuary Belize Security were on guard.. Request for access to the private property was denied. But from what, the Prime Minister was told, it’s quite a beautiful place.


Dean Barrow

Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“I gather Sanctuary Bay is somewhere in the south. I don’t know if it is around Sittee. As I said I have never been there in my life and worse now. No way I would…I would remedy what might have been an omission. I hear it is quite a beautiful place.”


The now infamous Sanctuary bay real estate scam and the allegations made by the Federal Trade Commission against the Prime Minister and members of his government, prompted Barrow to quickly rubbish the F.T.C.’s findings. The company “Sanctuary Bay Limited” came up.


On the Phone: Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“We were talking about the press conference about Sanctuary Bay. And I am sure that there is a company by name of Sanctuary Bay.”


That company exists and it was incorporated by the Prime Minister’s law firm, Barrow and Williams in 2005. During the press conference, PM Barrow told the media that cabinet never discussed Sanctuary Bay. This 2011 confident cabinet memo, however, says that Cabinet did discuss BELTRAIDE’s request for Eco Futures Belize Limited to receive fiscal incentives for infrastructure development at Sanctuary Bay. Since the leak of the memo, the interpretation is that the Prime Minister misspoke.


On the Phone: Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Well that is absolutely not the case. What has been produced in a copy of a cabinet confident showing that indeed a fiscal incentive was granted to a company called Eco Futures Limited. I do see, having been shown the document, that there was in terms of the location of the proposed development for which Eco Futures was being given a concession that it said Sanctuary Bay. But that is not the same as saying that we gave Sanctuary or Sanctuary Bay a concession. Or that we had any discussion in Cabinet about any difficulties that Sanctuary Bay might have been happening. I maintain that position. There was as far as I can remember never any discussion about Sanctuary Bay and its finances in our cabinet. You will note that Eco Futures, apart from being clearly a different company it must have turned out later on some inter-relationship with Sanctuary Limited or Sanctuary Bay Estates Limited or whatever. But you will note that apart from the fact the application for the concession and the grants of the concession was to Eco Futures Limited, not the Sanctuary Bay that the principals, the shareholders of Eco Futures were call are all Belizeans. Nothing at all to do with any Pukke or any American. So clearly we are talking about two different things completely.”


But those two different things have seemingly become one- both part of the multimillion dollars scam. According to the F.T.C.’s filings, Eco Futures Belize was also doing business on behalf of Sanctuary Bay, Sanctuary Belize and The Reserve. The timeline however is not clear.


On the Phone: Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“And that was when in 2011. What was raised at the press conference was this allegation that Pukke or somebody like that spoke to four ministers in what 2014 who said that they would raised the matter in cabinet That absolutely, I maintain, did not  happen. And what happened in 2011 had to do with Eco Futures Limited. Even if it turns out that the development for which they got the concession in their name was to take at a place called Sanctuary Bay. Not the same as Sanctuary Bay Estates or Sanctuary Bay Limited so were are talking about two different things. Okay?”


The difference here, according to the PM, is Sanctuary Bay the location as opposed to the company.


Prime Minister Dean Barrow

“Right it makes reference to Sanctuary Bay as the site of their project or the site of the operations. But how it could not make a difference this was a company called Eco Futures Limited owned as was statement on the application form by three Belizeans. On the face of it, no connections with any American, any of the people afterwards names or any American at all. That has to make all the difference in the world. That took place in 2011, Belizeans coming forward to apply for a fiscal incentive which after the application was properly vetted by the people BELTRAIDE came to Cabinet with a recommendation for the fiscal incentive to be granted. That has nothing to do with what took place afterwards and certainly with anything n 2014 about which there is a claim that Pukke or whatever the name is spoke to Ministers who promise to take up some financial difficulty in Cabinet. I am telling you that did not happen.”


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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