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Sep 30, 2008

Mayor hit by new round of financial allegations

Story PictureAs the political heat begins to turn up leading to March 2009 City Council elections, allegations and counter-allegations are flying from camp to camp. And tonight Belize City Mayor Zenaida Moya is at the heart of another financial scandal. Late this evening an envelope with explosive documents was anonymously dropped off at our news studios accusing the Mayor of paying herself unauthorized monies. The documents claim that Moya pays herself through two accounts – one for three thousand dollars monthly through the council’s payroll and an additional five thousand nine hundred dollars through CitCo’s Finance Department. Mayor Moya this evening denied the allegations and provided signed documents to back her up.

Zenaida Moya, Belize City Mayor
“When we got into office the first thing that was discussed is what was to be paid to the mayor and to the councillors. We were new into it and so we agreed that we would pay ourselves the same thing that the previous council was paying themselves, nothing more. The same thing that they were paying themselves we would pay ourselves. So we went ahead and that is what happened; whatever was paid to the previous councils was paid to us. I have a copy and the internal auditor has verified it because when I heard of the news I immediately called him and told him I need to get exactly what is the situation. And it states from internal auditor to mayor; date September twenty-eight; subject salaries, stipends and allowances, mayor deputy mayor and councils. Attached is a breakdown of salaries, stipends and allowances paid to the mayor, deputy mayor and councillors in the previous council as well as the present ones. The attachment reflects that the present mayor in fact lost an allowance—transportation—and a privilege Belize Bank visa card. However, the deputy mayor as well as the other nine councillors received a one hundred and fifty increased telephone allowance. Submitted for your consideration Antonio Castillo, Internal Auditor. He shows and these are what is paid. The previous Mayor was being paid a hundred and twelve thousand, three hundred seventy-five dollars and sixty-two cents per annum plus his phone bills were being paid, plus he was receiving vehicle maintenance and transportation allowance and had a vehicle. So this is in addition, you understand, to the hundred and twelve thousand, three hundred seventy-five dollars and sixty-two cents. He was not paying any income tax. Now me, when I got in, again we said we’d pay the same thing. They charged us income tax. I am being paid ninety-four thousand, four hundred sixteen dollars and twenty-six cents. That’s inclusive of vacation grant, insurance and everything; every single thing. That is every allowance, every benefit; anything. That includes the vacation grant and the insurance.”

Marion Ali
“And you are also being taxed on this?”

Zenaida Moya
“And I’m being tax. So this is after tax—income tax withheld—and it shows how much income tax has been withheld. The income tax withheld eighteen thousand, two hundred dollars and four cents and this is for the year. I am not, as opposed to the previous mayor, I don’t have a Visa credit card and I don’t have the vehicle allowance or the vehicle maintenance as what he had. This Deputy Mayor with income tax, even after income tax is taken out makes forty-nine thousand four hundred and sixteen dollars and twenty-four cents. So this is after income tax done get withheld.”

Marion Ali
“And I can verify all these figures if I go right to the council and …”

Zenaida Moya
“If you go right to the council you can verify it.”

Marion Ali
“Who can do that?”

Zenaida Moya
“You can go right to the Finance Director. Resolutions are made at the monthly Council meetings. That’s where resolutions are made. I have copies of all the council meetings; every single one of them and in no way—see the resolutions here—none of them, none of them have anything and you know why they won’t have it? Because were just simply going with what the previous council was making; we had already agreed that. So in terms of these, this is how a council minutes looks by the way. This is how a council minutes looks.”

Marion Ali
“Mayor, let me ask you this. You’ve come and you’ve shown us your documents and you’ve countered what this person is claiming. Who do you think is behind all of this? I know that it’s leading right up to convention and then later the elections next year. It’s a hotly contested seat that you occupy.”

Zenaida Moya
“Marion, I have no doubt that it’s coming from my opponent’s camp; no doubt whatsoever, no doubt. It’s coming from his camp. Again, I must not speak negatively but I will say that this is desperation on their end, simply desperation and one after the other, it’s showing that it’s desperation. But the people—they have to understand that no matter what they bring out, it’s the people who will decide this coming Sunday and no amount of falsification, no amount of untruths, no amount of allegations, and no amount of fabrication against me will work. It ultimately is the people who will decide.”

News Five will be hitting the campaign trails tomorrow with Moya and her opponent, Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael.

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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