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Dec 7, 2021

Stake Bank Vs. NEAC and DOE Set for December Twentieth

The fight for exclusivity in the development of a cruise port in the Belize District will be heard before the high court later this month, as the Feinstein Group has brought proceedings against the Government of Belize and NEAC.  The litigation is over environmental approval given to developer David Gegg for Port of Magical Belize, a competing interest which it is alleged will upend Stake Bank’s investment.  Ahead of that court case, News Five’s Isani Cayetano perused two affidavits that have been filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of both parties.  Here’s that report.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

“The lawsuit against the Attorney General, the National Environmental Appraisal Committee, and the Department of the Environment goes before the Supreme Court on December twentieth.  What is curious about the matter is that there has been no case management process ahead of the start of trial.  As we’ve reported, Stake Bank Enterprise Ltd., the parent company for Port Coral, has filed a claim against the Government of Belize and NEAC.  Portico Enterprises Ltd., the parent company of Port of Magical Belize, has signed on as an interested party.  Thus far, affidavits on behalf of the claimant, as well as the defendants, have been filed.  On November twenty-second, Alvaro Duron submitted a sworn statement signed by Frank Symns, a Commissioner of the Supreme Court of Belize.  Duron is the general manager for the Port Coral project which is being undertaken by Stake Bank Enterprise Ltd.  His affidavit is in support of Stake Bank’s application for judicial review in order to declare null and void the decision of NEAC and the Department of the Environment.  That decision was to grant Portico environmental clearance for the development of Port of Magical Belize.  According to Duron, in so doing, significant harm has been caused to Stake Bank Enterprise Limited because the costs of financing which have been driven up.  Likewise, the credibility of the project itself has purportedly taken a serious hit.  Elsewhere in the written version of the sworn statement, Duron goes on to say that they met with the President of the Mediterranean Shipping Company at a conference held by the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association in October.  He claims that during that meeting, the head of MSC reportedly questioned the claimant’s team extensively, explaining that the catalyst for the company’s loss of nerve followed information he received from representatives of Portico regarding Port Coral. Duron’s statement covers thirty-two points, including the suggestion that the approval of environmental clearance for Port of Magical Belize borders on corporate cannibalism which causes severe harm to Port Coral, as well as the country of Belize.  The implication is that even if there was to be a fifty-fifty split between both competing ports, neither multimillion dollar venture would be able to meet their debt servicing obligations.  Furthermore, Duron goes on to allege that NEAC failed to consider the economic impact that Port of Magical Belize would have on its competitor. In an affidavit tendered on November sixteenth, Kenrick Gordon, Head of the Environmental Impact Assessment Unit, states that he has researched and reviewed pertinent documents at the ministry so as to follow the allegations made by Stake Bank Enterprises.  He also provides thorough context of the application that was presented to the Department of the Environment regarding the proposed Port of Magical Belize development.  According to Gordon, four meetings were held by NEAC before approval was granted to Portico on March 9th, 2021.  Subsequently, he read the affidavits of Troy Gabb, Jose Garcia and Michael McFadden and concluded that those sworn statements are pro- Stake Bank.  Gordon also says that there is no exclusivity for cruise ports in Belize and exclusivity does not appear in the Stake Bank Act.  The head of the EIA Unit concludes his statement by saying that under the advice of the Solicitor General, Stake Bank Enterprises Limited has no arguable case and is only seeking to, quote, frustrate, fluster and stifle any other project which is similar to its own, unquote.”

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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