More on the BTL missing money saga. This new "little" scandal,
compared to the missing Intelco money, certainly serves as a distraction for
the population to work at forgetting about Intelco. http://www.reporter.bz/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=669&Itemid=2
BTL former chief mum on Zabaneh! Says El Sayed will pay back
Friday, 30 September 2005
By Angel Novelo - Staff Reporter
Gaspar Aguilar, the former Chief Executive Officer of the Belize
Telecommunications Limited, subject of a police investigation into $7.6
million missing from the telephone company, spent six hours being grilled by
police investigators on Tuesday.
He was picked up from his Princess Margaret Drive home in Belize
City around 4 P.M. and was not released until after 10:30P.M.
Hasan El Sayed, the husband of Aguilar's niece, who has failed
to return $1.4 million of B.T.L. money Aguilar gave him to convert to U.S.
currency four months ago, promised to return the money, Aguilar told the
Reporter during an interview.
Aguilar said he is confident the issue over the $1.4 million to
El Sayed will be settled soon.
"He is out of the country, but I spoke to him recently and he
told me not to worry. The money is safe and when he returns he will settle
the matter," Aguilar confirmed to this newspaper.
Aguilar was questioned extensively by the police, Superintendent
Mario Vernon about his know-ledge of how $7.6 million went missing from the
company's bank account between December last year and May this year.
Aguilar, along with El Sayed and Dion Zabaneh are at the centre
of the criminal investigation. But El Sayed and Zabaneh have yet to be
picked up for questioning.
The police officially launched their investigation into the
missing money on Monday September 19, 2005, two months after a newly
appointed board of directors of B.T.L. discovered the missing funds.
In December last year while Aguilar was head of finances, he
reportedly handed over $6.2 million Belize currency to Zabaneh to change in
to United States dollars on the black market.
Zabaneh did not return either Belize currency or the U.S.
dollars. Aguilar went on to hand over $1.4 million of B.T.L.'s money to El
Sayed in May this year, despite El Sayed was already facing 119 counts of
forgery related criminal charges for his alleged involvement in the illegal
sale of Belizean passports in 2002.
Less than a month after El Sayed received the $1.4 million, he
failed to show up at his Supreme Court trial on Monday, June 27, 2005.
His attorney told the court he was in Lebanon.
He is currently out on $200,000 bail and his court trial on the
forgery related charges is expected to commence later this month. Nothing is
known of Zabaneh, except that he lives in the exclusive Bella Vista area of
Aguilar would not comment on what led him and the B.T.L. board
to go along with giving Zabaneh $6.2 million with no security.
Prior to his detention, Aguilar was reluctant to speak with the
media about his knowledge of what took place, except for a three page letter
addressed to B.T.L. Chairman Keith Arnold.
After he was allowed to go home without being charged, Aguilar
took to the air waves to defend himself.
But he steadfastly refuses to say who directed him to get
involved in converting millions of dollars on the black market.
He also refuses to name names, or give any information at all
about the identity of others involved in the money game.
Aguilar insists he has documents to support his claim that he
acted with the knowledge and approval of the Board of Directors of B.T.L.
He added he was not concerned about El Sayed's run ins with the
law on the passport charges because the company had smoothly executed
several transactions with him.
Aguilar revealed the black market transactions which resulted in
the conversion of nearly U.S. $100 million since 2001 were done with the
full knowledge of the B.T.L. board of directors.
Aguilar continues to insist that he did nothing wrong, but was
only following the instructions from his superiors.
With the large volume of money changing hands, it's only
reasonable to expect both the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance knew
all about what was taking place.
Aguilar said that he has given the police a statement, but has
yet to give them documents to support what he knows.
Those documents are in the hands of his attorney, Michael Young,
Aguilar was relieved of his post at B.T.L. on Tuesday September
Keith Arnold, who also heads the Financial Intelligence Unit
(F.I.U.), which is tasked with responsibility to investigate money
laundering, is now the Chairman of B.T.L.
Arnold and Dean Boyce, associates of the British millionaire
Michael Ashcroft, are now running B.T.L.