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Aug 17, 2009

London Court of Intl Arbitration makes interim injunction

In news of a legal nature, the London Court of International Arbitration has made an interim ruling in the proceedings regarding a UHS debt which involved ten million dollars granted by the Government of Venezuela to the Government of Belize in late 2007. Although the Government has already received the ten million dollars from the Belize Bank, the matter remains tied up in a legal wrangle. A First Partial Award has however been made by the Tribunal and as it says, it is only a first award and the proceedings are to continue.

And while GOB has refused to participate in the London proceedings, Belmopan today is embracing the ruling by the Tribunal. Firstly, the Tribunal found that in respect of ten million dollars received from Venezuela late in December 2007, the settlement agreement between the Bank and the Government was void as a matter of law because of an agreement between the Governments of Venezuela and Belize that the funds would be used for the construction of housing. Those funds, the Tribunal found, should have been paid into the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

According to the Belize Bank, it entered into a into a settlement agreement with GOB and agreed to write-off significant amounts owed to the Bank, in order to allow the hospital to continue functioning. Nonetheless, the Bank says it accepts this initial ruling of the LCIA Tribunal, as the ruling was given in the forum mutually agreed between the Government and the Bank for the settling of disputes in this matter.

The Bank, however, maintains it is out of pocket for monies it loaned the hospital and which was guaranteed by GOB. And while the ruling precludes the Bank from relying on the most recent settlement agreement, the First Partial Award leaves the door open for the Bank to pursue its claims to fully recover the monies which are owed to the Bank by the Government. Claims which the Belize Supreme Court recently recognised are legitimate in the case brought by the Association of Concerned Belizeans. The Bank also retains the view that the Central Bank acted as a GOB claim enforcer and not as a regulator when it ordered the Bank to hand over the money to the Government.


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