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Dec 8, 2009

Hayward begins arbitration proceedings against government

Still on the telecoms industry, when the Government expropriated Telemedia in August, it just might have taken on the mother of all legal battles. To add to the slew of cases it is already facing from the nationalization, two additional matters landed before the desk of Prime Minister Dean Barrow last Friday and both are connected to a treaty between the Governments of Belize and the United Kingdom.

The first is from the Hayward Charitable Belize Trust, which owned sixty-nine percent of the shares in Telemedia before they were compulsorily acquired by G.O.B. Its Turks and Caicos Islands’ subsidiary, Dunkeld International Investment Ltd., gave notice that it has initiated arbitration proceedings against the Government for breach of several treaty obligations all stemming from G.O.B.’s expropriation of Dunkeld’s investment in Telemedia. This legal case is being brought under the Promotion and Protection of Investments Treaty between Belize and the UK, which was originally signed in 1982 and which was extended to cover the Turks and Caicos Islands by an exchange of notes signed by the PM as Foreign Minister back in 1985. Dunkeld has initiated arbitration following the expiration of a three month notification period during which the outstanding claim was not resolved.

Also on Friday, the British law firm Allen and Overy, on behalf of the British Caribbean Bank, put the government on guard that the Bank has grounds for a claim under the same Investment Treaty with the UK. What this means is that arbitration proceedings will be commenced by the Bank against the Government, if the Bank’s outstanding claim is not satisfied within the next three months. The claim has to do with the nationalization on Friday of the forty five million dollars loan extended by the Bank in 2007 to Telemedia. In addition to these two latest proceedings, the nationalization has spawned several other claims against B.T.L. and the government not including the compensation claims under the Nationalization Act. And this is just the beginning of what will surely rack up more financial burdens on weary taxpayers smack in the middle of a worsening recession.


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