The company was introduced to Belize as Green Tropics; a foreign investment that government said would see the expansion of the sugar industry in the West of Belize and provide much needed economic activity and employment opportunity. But after Spanish Financial powerhouse Santender invested some 50 Million USD in the project and an additional 96 million USD in loans, the project became known as Santender. The project is no small one, with a total investment of 142 million USD of which 96 Million USD is coming from a syndicated loan package, according to sources. Yesterday, the media learnt that the group has approached the Belize Social Security Board for a 12 Million Dollar loan after an International Bank from the United States backed out of the Syndicated loan package. Interestingly, in a LOVE FM interview with Dough Singh, Chairman of Social Security, he described the loan as QUOTE “… is investing or has invested” begging the question, has Santender already borrowed and spent the 6 million USD and now needs to repay a bank that they say is backing out. Recently, the wider Caribbean region and in particular Belize, have been labeled as a high risk jurisdiction for financial services by several US organizations, leading to several Belizean Banks being derisked by their Corresponding banks in the USA. Chairman Singh confirmed that the 12 Million Dollar loan was approved last week by the Board after receiving a green light from the Investment Committee of the Institution. The loan to Santender is in the publication stage where members of the general public have 2 weeks to submit their objections or views on the decision. But already, the backlash has been swift and vocal as callers to talks shows have already been voicing their opposition. The company’s public image has suffered consistently and Santender’s employment practices have come under public scrutiny numerous times. But Chairman Sing indicated in an interview yesterday that Santender already has a shoe in because QUOTE ” Social Security received a significant amount of monies on a monthly basis for Social Security for employees that they hire…” and that SSB stands to benefit. “This loan offers an 8% return in the first two years and a 7% return thereafter which is significantly more and will help to strengthen the fund that helps to benefit Belizeans. In addition to which I think it’s a worthy investment because it helps to develop an industry in Belize that helps to create employment for Belizeans and it helps with foreign exchange for the country. This is not like we are lending overseas we are actually lending for domestic investment so I think overall the loan has many merits in it.” Investors in the aforementioned syndicated package included several Belize banks including The Belize Bank, Atlantic Bank and Heritage Bank. Questions being voiced is how the Central Bank could allow a foreign investor to source so much local currency from the domestic financial market and now from the worker’s purse; The Social Security Board.