The Government of Belize says it will mount a challenge to a decision issued on Friday by the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), which ruled that it owes the British Caribbean Bank Limited (BCB) of Turks and Caicos Islands some US$41.773 million, the sum borrowed by Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL) in 2007 under its prior owners to enable a subsidiary to purchase Telemedia’s own shares, which the new ownership led by the Government maintains is illegal. The shares were later distributed to the Ashcroft-related companies.
In a press release issued on Friday, the Government said it is willing to pay BCB compensation, but the new ownership of Telemedia objects to the illegal purpose of the original loan although they were overruled in today’s decision.
A separate matter pursuing the same set of circumstances is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Belize.
The Government acquired the loan in the first nationalization of Telemedia in August of 2009, after the BCB demanded its payment and threatened to wind up the company if resisted.
The release says additional claims for compensation by BCB were declined by the Court, but it also made awards to BCB for lesser sums for the compulsory acquisition of other loans that BCB had made to Sunshine Holdings Ltd.
The release also clarifies that this matter is separate from the question of the nationalizations, argued in the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) last week, and on which a decision is expected in January.
Incidentally, the CCJ agreed with the Government in a 2013 decision that an earlier arbitration award to BCB Holdings and the Belize Bank in relation to agreements with the Musa administration back in 2006, which the CCJ said were contrary to public policy.