#257539 - 11/23/07 11:51 PM
One heck of a parting shot by the lady Lois Young
Lois Young Parting Shot on the Kremandala Show (20th
By Lois Young
By 2001 the Government of Belize had facilitated 52% of the
55% of the shares the government owned in BTL to Michael
Ashcroft and his companies.
For the bulk of the shares, the price was artificially
fixed when a fake offer to purchase at $2.30 per share was
circulated to all shareholders. A few weeks later the
Government sold to Ashcroft at $2.31.
The Government gave up some $6 million in dividends and the
dividends earned by Ashcroft attracted no tax.
I was furious about this. I attended a private Christmas
gathering shortly after this sale and I told the Prime
Minister, who was also at the gathering, that this sale was
wrong, wrong, wrong and bad for the people of Belize .
In December 2003 the Government purchased back 52% of the
shares from Michael Ashcroft. This was the Government’s
opportunity to hold on to the BTL shares. A second chance
that we seldom have, or so I thought. But not so. The
Government decided to sell this 52% to Jeffrey Prosser for
a promissory note. No cash. And in breach of the BTL’s
constitution. This was undoubtedly pre-arranged between the
Government and the Ashcroft group, designed to ultimately
present Ashcroft BTL lock stock & barrel.
I say this because even before the Government sold to
Prosser, it had signed an agreement with the Ashcroft
Group, promising Ashcroft that, in return for Ashcroft
selling Government his shares, the Government would sell
all of the Government’s shares and the SSB and the DFC, the
Central Bank Pension Scheme shares and the Special Share,
to one selected person - Jeffrey Prosser.
In addition, this Government agreed with Ashcroft that if
Prosser did not pay, the Government would sell the shares
back to Ashcroft.
And that is exactly what happened. Government bought from
Ashcroft at a certain price, and when Prosser did not pay
for all of the shares, this Government turned around and
sold to Ashcroft at a lower price.
I repeat, it was all a set up designed to deliver BTL, lock
stock and barrel to Michael Ashcroft. And it violates BTL’s
articles of association.
BTL was intended to be owned by Belizeans, by the tens of
thousands. The plan was, as conceptualized and by Manuel
Esquivel and Nestor Vasquez, in March 1988 for the
Government to gradually divest itself of controlling
shares, incrementally, in amounts that people could absorb,
and to keep the Special Share. The Special Share carries
the right to have 2 Directors on the BTL board.
Telecommunications is the life blood of any economy. The
Special Share was designed to be the Government’s way of
protecting our national security and Belizean shareholders.
BTL uses a substantial spectrum of frequencies that the
country of Belize has for its own national security. By
giving away the Special Share the Government has given up
its ability to always input how BTL uses that resource.
This present Government is bad for Belize . In May 2007
this Government passed the Vesting Act which, basically,
gave Michael Ashcroft BTL. The Government is hell bent on
shackling Belizeans into economic slavery. Instead of
Belizeans owning the wealth generated by
telecommunications, this Government has facilitated a
foreigner in taking it away from us.
And now this Government is doing the same thing with St.
Francis Xavier Credit Union. It has legislated so that a
Government appointee, namely the Governor of the Central
Bank, can take over the credit union. No responsible, good
thinking educated government should use its legislative
power for personal motives.
Business people of Belize , I have said it before: today
Jeffrey Prosser and St. Francis Xavier, tomorrow you and
me. It’s as simple as that.
#257541 - 11/23/07 11:54 PM
Re: One heck of a parting shot by the lady Lois Young
Goliath GoB attacks “David” Canul…
Make no mistake about it: Vicente Canul is a national hero.
27 years ago he and a group of sixteen started out with
only $2,000 worth of assets they had borrowed from the
Catholic Church in Corozal. Today they have grown to 20,000
strong with assets worth over $41 million. Today the St.
Francis Xavier Credit Union is a success story among so
many “circus weh brok up da” Belize . Vicente Canul stands
tall, having walked the straight and narrow with the
people’s money, and seen triumph. So, why does the GoB want
to clip his wings?
Amandala met up with Mr. Canul at a protest rally (credit
union members) in Corozal Town on Tuesday, November 20. Mr.
Canul told us that the general membership of the St.
Francis Xavier Credit Union (SFXCU) felt there were “wrong
decisions and misdeeds” by the board of directors, that
these errors were “tantamount to abuse”, thus they decided
on a vote of no confidence for the board.
Mr. Canul says his committee has “documentation” to back up
the charges, citing in one instance that the board had gone
far over its budget for stipends and allowances. He told us
that that specific matter, and other issues of that kind,
were with their attorney, so he didn’t want to elaborate in
that vein further.
Mr. Canul told us that he and the 6 or 7 hundred other
members present were “protesting the (surprise) action of
the government” for passing a hurried law that “violated
our rights” …gave “more power to the Registrar…to call
special meetings in some cases”…”other unlimited powers”…
and “gives the Registrar power to appoint an
administrator.” Mr. Canul expressed serious dissatisfaction
that GoB had not allowed them any opportunity to voice
their views and concerns with the new piece of legislation.
“We are not in bankruptcy,” he told Amandala, “so we don’t
see the need for an administrator at this time.”
We noted that the riot squad was about, but Mr. Canul said
he was not fazed by their presence. In fact, he thought
they looked “impressive”, and told us that he had told
Police Officer Mr. Crispin Jeffries so in a cordial
conversation. Mr. Canul did not expect the demonstration to
turn violent. It is a “peaceful protest,” he told us, and
he believes it should be so, peaceful and democratic as
members decide what is best for their credit union. But, he
cautioned: “members have stated categorically that they
will not allow any administrator to come in and run their
Mr. Vicente Canul, the man in the middle of the impasse,
says he is grateful to “all Belizeans who express support
for their position” and, finally, “we believe that the
powers should listen to our plea and give us the
recognition as guaranteed under the constitution.”
What happened at St. Francis Xavier Credit Union? Amandala
spoke with the Head Office Manager at SFXCU, Mr. Rafael
Dominguez, to get that side of the story. According to Mr.
Dominguez, the Supervisory Committee had for some time been
trying to get the “attention” of the board of directors
about certain irregularities, but they were being ignored.
The Supervisory Committee prepared an agenda for a Special
Meeting, and invited the Registrar of Cooperatives and the
members of the credit union. The meeting was held on
September 16, 2007, at the Andres Campos Civic Center in
Corozal Town . The Registrar did not make the meeting, but
he sent a representative, Mr. Braulio Contreras, in his
After Mr. Contreras certified a quorum (10% of the voting
membership - 1,213 persons attended) the meeting got under
way. The Supervisory Committee informed the meeting of
their concerns about the board. After deliberation the
meeting declared a vote of no confidence in the board, and
then proceeded to elect a pro-tem board to carry on the
business of the credit union until the next election of
With the participation of a representative of the
Registrar, the credit union thought the “governor was on
What’s the Central Bank’s beef with Mr. Canul? It is felt
that Mr. Canul is dictatorial, and acts “proprietary.” It
is said that Mr. Canul has engineered the removal of 3
boards previously, and that this last one would have been
the fourth. The argument continues that it is “difficult to
impossible” to provide the necessary oversight mandated,
when the situation is so unstable at the credit union.
In a press release dated November 5, the Registrar of
Credit Unions, Mr. Sydney Campbell, wrote of the
Supervisory Committee at St. Francis Xavier Credit Union
(SFXCU) charging that they have “once again purported to
suspend the President and certain members of the
duly-elected Board...” The Registrar stated that the
Supervisory Committee’s actions were “wholly unlawful”,
accused them of ignoring his directives, and described
their behavior as bordering on “anarchy.” He further
appealed to the members of the credit union to exercise
“restraint” and reminded them that the term of office of
the present board “will expire in a few months’ time,” so
they should continue with the old board until the next
Annual General Meeting.
Mr. Canul responded on November 13, expressing in certain
terms what he was going to do to protect the credit union
over which he had “presided as nurturer and caretaker.” He
wrote: “We…shall shortly be seeking Constitutional
Redress…We have no doubt that our petition will succeed.”
He continued: “…any further interference in the operations
of our credit union will be met with law suits against
yourself (Registrar) and any outgoing board members who
continue to interfere in the daily operation of our Credit
In the House of Representatives last Friday, the Prime
Minister alluded to the fall of the Mount Carmel Credit
Union (MCCU), using that as impetus to strengthen the
legislation. A reliable source enlightened us about the
case with the MCCU. The MCCU suffered the embezzlement of
hundreds of thousands of dollars several years ago (2000),
and is still on its knees. Investigations later revealed
that the Mount Carmel fund had been breached, not by an
elaborate scam by top personnel, but because of
over-confidence. A trusted employee did the credit union
In 2005 the government passed a law mandating that the
Governor of the Central Bank act as Registrar of
Cooperatives. At that same time all financial institutions,
except for the insurance companies, were brought under one
umbrella – the Central Bank.
Banks are breached from time to time. These matters are
usually settled “in house,” because it is terrible news for
a bank if people feel they are not secure with their money.
Still, scandal after scandal has spilled forth of late as
crooks get more and more greedy, and banks have gone under
across the globe because of the strain.
No accusations of wrongdoing have been brought to Mr.
Canul’s door. Mr. Vicente Canul, according to all reports,
has proved himself to be a man of impeccable character in
respect to the people’s money. The SFXCU, it appears, has
almost complete faith in him. To our knowledge the sticking
point is “procedural,” and maybe “personal.”
It is interesting to us, the point of the Registrar of
Cooperatives, Mr. Sydney Campbell, when he suggests to
SFXCU to wait out the board because it “will expire in a
few month’s time.” If the constitution contains such a
safety mechanism, allows for the removal of the board, why
wait if they are not satisfying the members/owners of the
Is the SFXCU entirely correct when it describes itself as a
private business? A commercial bank is properly described
as a private entity. Because of the public’s interest the
profits of credit unions are not taxed, and neither is the
interest on savings taxed. These are tremendous benefits to
the credit union not received by true “private” banks.
What is happening at the SFXCU can indeed become tragic if
the situation is not stabilized quickly. Banks thrive in an
atmosphere of stability. Maybe the government should have
the right to appoint an administrator when things go wrong.
But what to do with a man who is providing great
stewardship of “poor people money?”
(P.S. We called Mr. Vicente Canul late this evening to find
out in particular if the “ousted” board was present at the
Special General Meeting called on September 16, 2007. Mr.
Canul told us that the board was at that meeting, but not
at the head table. He told us that they were “quite
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