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Mar 20, 2009

Judgment reserved in constitutionality of Appeals Board

An appeal by the Belize Bank winded down late this evening in the Court of Appeals. Arguments began Thursday evening on the constitutionality of the Appeals Board of the Central Bank . This appeal goes back to a directive by the Central Bank to the Belize Bank to transfer to Government U.S. ten million dollars granted by the Venezuelan government and to provide documentation regarding a similar sum from Taiwan. From the inception, the Belize Bank maintained that the two directives were unlawful and void. On July sixteenth last year the Belize Bank brought a constitutional case against Government before Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh. The Bank argued that the Appeals Board lacked impartiality and independence since two of its members were political appointees named by the Prime Minister. The three-member board had as its Chairman, Samuel Awich.

The C.J., however, was not convinced that the Prime Minister’s appointments undermined the impartiality of the Appeals Board. He ruled against five declarations put forth by the Belize Bank and refrained from granting an injunction objecting to two appointments to the board.
Attorneys in the ongoing appeal, Vincent Nelson QC and Andrew Marshalleck made their submissions yesterday on behalf of the Belize Bank challenging the impartiality of the board. In responding for Government, Senior Counsel Lois Young argued that there can be no implications of apparent bias coming from the PM. But she went further to state that even if there was bias that cannot be transferred to the two political appointees since both were capable of forming their own opinions. Arguments closed today with some degree of drama when Young was seen shedding tears. Judgment has been reserved for a later date.

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