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Feb 25, 2020

Is MLAT Still Necessary for John Saldivar Probe?

Commissioner of Police Chester Williams is tasked with carrying out a criminal investigation into former Minister of National Security John Saldivar in the wake of the Lev Dermen scandal.  A probe into financial transactions conducted between Saldivar and Dermen, dating back to 2013 when large sums of monies exceeding the prescribed limit were doled out on a monthly basis, would require the assistance of the United States government.  Under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, MLAT, Belize can request sensitive information from U.S. authorities regarding those transactions.  According to attorney Eamon Courtenay, that undertaking should be led by any of several agencies, including the Integrity Commission and that Financial Intelligence Unit, with the exception of Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte who is now also the substantive Minister of Police.


Eamon Courtenay

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney-at-law

“What the Mutual Legal Assistance Act and Treaty, in criminal matters, provides for is cooperation between states across borders to fight and suppress corruption and criminal activity within the respective countries who are parties to the treaties, in this case, Belize and the United States.  So, in essence, what this treaty and the act provides for is cooperation between the United States and Belize in criminal matters, the collection of evidence, the taking of testimony, consultation, the finding of persons who should be moved from one country to another, the taking of evidence from one country to be sent to the other to be used in a criminal trial, investigating forfeiture.  So the entire spectrum, from investigation to conviction, to forfeiting the proceeds of criminal activity. But I think that what the Belizean people are demanding, what the Chamber has demanded, what the People’s United Party has demanded and what so far appears not to have been done is the launch of an investigation and it need not be by the attorney general and it should not be by the attorney general.  It should be by the Commissioner of Police, the police department, it can be by the Integrity Commission which has the power to launch its own investigation, it can be by the Financial Intelligence Unit which can also do the investigation.”

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