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Dec 4, 2009

Telemedia loan will still have to be paid

Story PictureThe loan of forty-five million dollars which Telemedia got from the British Caribbean Bank in 2007 has been smack in the middle of the controversy and that is because Telemedia is asserting that the Bank loaned the money for the purchase of shares in the telephone company. According to Telemedia Chairman, Net Vasquez, at Monday’s press conference, this is unlawful because a company cannot provide financial assistance for the purchase of its own shares. The result, he says, is that the loan is unlawful and therefore Telemedia does not have to repay the money. The bank has already said it is all part of government’s strategy to avoid paying debts that it doesn’t want to honor. We further asked Courtenay this morning if Telemedia’s position could stand.

Eamon Courtenay, Senator
“As I understand Mister Vasquez, he is saying that you cannot lend money to a company and then that company takes that money to buy its own shares. Mister Vasquez is an accountant and it seems to me that he misunderstands the law. There is no provision in the Company’s Act of Belize which prohibits such a transaction. So that’s where we need to start; there is no such thing. In England there is a provision that provides that if a company is going to do such a thing, it must first get the permission of the court. So perhaps he is confusing the English position with the Belize position. There is no such prohibition in the Company’s Act of Belize.”

Jose Sanchez
“Is Telemedia’s position legally correct?”

Eamon Courtenay
“It cannot be correct and the truth of the matter is that Telemedia owes British Caribbean Bank twenty odd million dollars and it has to pay it. I think what we are seeing here is an attempt by Telemedia to run what I would describe as some sort of P.R. terrorism to confuse the mind of the public from the true position. The question is at the end of the day ‘Did the bank lend Telemedia money?’ The answer is yes. Has the money been repaid? The answer is no. Now to suggest that you have come up with some technicality that will excuse Telemedia from paying the money, I think moves this question from civil law into a criminal matter and I really don’t think that is where Mister Vasquez wants to head. The money will be repaid. It should be repaid. To take money from a bank and not pay it back is something which is well known to all Belizeans. People lose their property all the time because they don’t pay a debt. It is no different for Telemedia.”

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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