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#315315 - 12/19/08 10:46 PM Michael Ashcroft's point of view
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He makes a very important point: "We have great budget deficits, we shouldn’t be fighting... we should be using the talents of everyone and really try to pull Belize out of this recession. I hope our Prime Minister was watching him!

Originally Posted By: Channel5
Lord Michael Ashcroft has his say on Open Your Eyes

The guest on this morning’s Open Your Eyes was Lord Michael Ashcroft. The businessman was pointed in his replies to a vast array of questions from his early childhood and his connections to Belize to his recent troubles with the government. First on the troubles list was the Venezuela millions.


Michael Ashcroft, Businessman
“The bank believes that the ten million U.S. dollars that the government took back is by unlawful means and there is a process of appeals going through on that particular issue because that is basically the guarantee that was covered for the U.H.S. debt. But what it seems happened is the government has taken—the matter was settled with the previous government and so this government has taken ten million U.S. dollars from the bank which has affected the bank’s lending to the productive sector in Belize.”

“If you take the money back and spend it on housing, the government still owes the Belize Bank that money from a previous debt. So what politics does is link the two together and make it appear as though we’ve taken the poor people’s money in order to get people excited and it’s a populous measure by politicians in order to create support for themselves, but it doesn’t hide from the fact that there is a debt due to the Belize Bank. Through the arbitration going on in London, if we win that arbitration, it means that we win the amount we will get a judgment is not ten million, it’ll probably be sixteen, seventeen or eighteen million dollars which I think is an extraordinary shame that we’ve got a position where we had settled the matter.”

The other hot topic in the public has been the increase in taxes for telecom companies and the governmental and public skepticism surrounding who really owns Telemedia. According to Ashcroft, after the Jeffrey Prosser fiasco, G.O.B. approached him to buy back the company, but he was not interested and instead felt it was a great opportunity to re-Belizeanize it. Today he explained the company’s ownership.

Michael Ashcroft, Businessman
“The basic deal was that B.T.L. would buy these over-inflated properties in return for the concessions very similar to what Mr. Prosser already had and that what I was going to do was to create an employees trust for around twenty percent of the company for which the employees had to find no money but would be financed by Belize Bank, Social Security Board and government and that the rest of the shares would go into a charitable trust for the long-term benefit of Belizean charities and causes and that is in fact what the Hayworth Trust is; it’s a charity set up when eventually the debt that was incurred by the trust to buy the B.T.L. shares plus dividends and all when B.T.L. is sold, this will bring massive foreign currency into Belize because it is now completely Belizean owned and I think we estimated that on a proper sale may be up to something like one hundred and fifty million dollars U.S. could flow into the country. The dispute which I’ve read recently, it proved it’s for Belizean charitable causes. First of all, I have said to the prime minister right from the start when he asked this question, that before we finally make any settlement, I am more than happy to show all the documents. I was actually very proud to have Re-Belizeanized something. And then I have to watch the systematic destruction of this Belizeans entity for reasons that still take me by surprise and so whatever the outcome is of B.T.L., I have no economic interest. It is damaging a Belizean interest in the future and I am still not sure what this dispute is all about.”

“I have regarded Dean Barrow over the years as someone who I regarded as a friend. I supported Mr. Barrow very heavily throughout the last election. I think perhaps my group of companies may have been the largest financial supporter of Mr. Barrow and the U.D.P. in order for them to come to power. So quite clearly, when there are these disputes, it affects that personal relationship. But hopefully, we are pragmatic enough to work through it.”


On the recent signing of the compromis that paves the way to take the Guatemalan claim to I.C.J., Ashcroft felt that there are pressing matters, budgetary and otherwise, where energies should be directed.

Michael Ashcroft, Businessman

“I don’t believe that the I.C.J. Guatemala border dispute, which is a hot divisive issue, should now be on the table to divide the country in a referendum where passions will be high, where even this week some of the negotiators got eggs thrown on them and this will be a passionate debate that will take a lot of time. Nor do I think we should be tinkering with constitutional amendments. This is a time when there should be great efforts to bring the country together. I don’t particularly see merit in the charges of the pervious prime minister and Mr. Fonseca which I think will be shown at the end of the day whether people agree or disagree. We have great budget deficits, we shouldn’t be fighting... we should be using the talents of everyone and really try to pull Belize out of this recession.”

To watch the entire show by streaming video, visit our website at channel5belize.com and click on the Open Your Eyes logo.

http://www.channel5belize.com/archive_detail_story.php?story_id=22713
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#315324 - 12/19/08 11:55 PM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Short]
Katie Valk Offline
This is Ashcrofts self serving POV on Ashcrofts own tv station, interviewed by a reporter on his payroll, questions prepared by someone on his payroll to further his own agenda. Which is why he bought the tv station to begin with. The jury is still out on whether Ashcroft will be good for Belize in the long run. He plays hard ball and takes no prisoners. Like a spider, he catches his prey in a web. I would love for Ashcroft to give the same time to Jules Vasquez of Ch 7. He couldn't do it.
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#315327 - 12/20/08 12:02 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Katie Valk]
SP Daily Offline
Jules plays hardball

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#315328 - 12/20/08 12:45 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Katie Valk]
Short Offline
Agreed Katie, I know Ashcroft well enough never to want to do business with him. Love to watch him outsmarting governments though and I admire him for that. Think his remark being the largest financial supporter for Dean Barrow and the UDP is at least remarkable. Enough about him.

What I am disappointed about with our new government is that the political victimizing seems to be reaching new highs, while we are in the middle of a crisis, and I agree with Ashcroft in that context that we really need to work together and put party politics aside for a while.
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#315341 - 12/20/08 01:45 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Short]
Katie Valk Offline
Ashcroft gave more to the PUP last election than the UDP, he was covering his bases, as lobbyist do all over the world. Listen, if Said and Ralph acts were illegal, let them stand trial same as the crack addict who steals from the shop on the corner. If the DPP doesn't have evidence to convict, there's no reason to put the country thru the spasms of a trial. We do know they misappropriated funds and lied to the people of Belize. It should be a crime. Ashcrofts own comment about Said and Ralph is that they are not as criminal as they are stupid.
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#315342 - 12/20/08 01:49 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Katie Valk]
SP Daily Offline
But what about Glen Godfrey?

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#315345 - 12/20/08 02:05 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: SP Daily]
Katie Valk Offline
Him too and a long list of others who embezzeled public funds. But it has to be an indictable offense and we need evidence to convict. Otherwise, institute new laws that cover these things and nail the next ones who try. You think Dean was pleased to have Salvador Fernandez running in Cayo? He kept him because he would get the much needed votes to win the election, but told him he'd be a back bencher without a portfolio. Like politics everywhere, its a business. We need this superbond like a hole in the head. Its criminal to have left the country in this sad state of financial distress. And they are laughing all the way to the Belize Bank here and in Turks, Cayman, Panama, etc. No shame, no conscience. Its sociopathic bahavior.
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#315378 - 12/20/08 04:53 PM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Katie Valk]
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I wonder why you think Ashcroft can not make a statement, because BTL owns Channel5? Barrow makes statements all the time on the government web site...

As for Said Musa, all he did was use money that was donated for Housing on Medical care. He didn't steal or use it for himself. He used the money where Belize needed it at that time. You are right when you say he should not have kept it a secret.

I very much doubt that Dean Barrow agreed with charging Musa and Fonseca. It will be impossible to prove theft, unless the laws are bent and that is creepy or when new facts surface. I am getting the impression that the UDP is getting more divided and Barrow is loosing control.
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#315424 - 12/21/08 12:16 AM Re: Michael Ashcroft's point of view [Re: Short]
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To illustrate my point about Musa and Fonseca here the opinion of Godfrey Smith (not new but relevant):
Originally Posted By: Flashpoint Belize
The Juice and Biscuits Trial

‘Herald, read the accusation!’ said the King.

The Queen of Hearts; she made some tarts,
All on a summer day:
The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts,
And took them quite away!

‘Consider your verdict,’ the King said to the jury.
‘Not yet, not yet!’ the Rabbit hastily interrupted. ‘There’s a great deal to come before that!’
-The trial of the knave of hearts, Alice in Wonderland

“For that Said Musa on the 28th day of December 2007, in the City of Belmopan, in the Cayo District, stole the sum of US$10,000,000.00, the property of the Government of Belize”, is how the historic charge reads against former Prime Minister Said Musa. But there’s a great deal to come before the jury considers their verdict, if indeed it ever gets to that.

The charge of theft arose from a grant of US $20 million made by the Venezuelan Government to the Government of Belize for housing for the people of Belize in December 2007. The allegation is that the money was gifted to the Government and people of Belize specifically for housing and the former PM and the Minister of Housing, unlawfully re-allocated half of the money to pay a government debt to the Belize Bank which the government had guaranteed on behalf of a private hospital. For this, they have both been charged with theft.

When asked by a reporter about the appropriateness of the charge, the DPP replied that theft wasn’t quite what the layman understood it to be and that it had to do with the assumption of rights belonging to others.

This is interesting.

Whatever the technical elements of the charge of theft, the layman’s view is the touchstone in a jury trial, especially one as high profile as this, and laymen, as well as media houses, are puzzled as to how theft arises.

As most people understand it, the money did not go into anyone’s pockets and, in any event, the new government succeeded in getting back the money from the Belize Bank. To the layman, this might amount to something, but not theft.

The following exchanges between reporters and the DPP capture the public reaction to the charge of theft:

Reporter One

Misappropriation of funds or fraudulent diversion seems to be the public opinion out there, that is the appropriate charge. Your opinion?
DPP
My opinion obviously is that he should have been charged with theft because that is what I directed.
Reporter Two
Did you consider misappropriation?
DPP
I considered every possible offense that could have been charged and theft is the most appropriate.
Reporter Two
I guess this is obvious but there are sufficient grounds you are certain for theft?
DPP
Or else why would I have directed that he be charged for theft?
Reporter Two
A lot of times people are charged and the prosecutions aren’t successful for a variety of reasons.
DPP

For a variety of reasons yes, in this case it certainly won’t be because the charge is incorrect.

Perceiving, no doubt, the public puzzlement about the charge of theft, the DPP was armed, at her next interview, with an illustration to explain to the ordinary man in the street, just how the charge of theft came about.

In doing so, she unwittingly succeeded in parodying the matter.

While technically sound, the illustration caused more befuddlement. Seasoned reporters, and even a few lawyers, confessed to having to read the transcript of the interview to understand the illustration. The reference to Caribbean Pride orange juice and Shirley biscuits in her illustration of the theft of 20 million dollars did not help to bolster the credibility of the charge in the eyes of laypersons already unconvinced of those charges.

There are few who believe that those charges will stick.

That wasn’t how it was supposed to be. Straining and staggering under the immense weight of the public perception of its intractable corruption the PUP Government collapsed on February 8th 2008. As it lay in the wreckage of its spectacular, homegrown financial mishaps, the new government, to rousing applause, virtually guaranteed the expectant masses, fed-up with impunity, jail-time for the fallen ministers.

Several factors contributed to the less than lukewarm response to the charges. Belizeans cannot wait a long time and despite early pronouncements at the highest levels of the new government that Mr. Musa and Mr. Fonseca would soon be charged, the charges came nine months later, interspersed with several false starts. One television station dubbed the matter a political dud. All this gave a clumsy and contrived appearance to the whole affair.

In the interim, the former Minister of Health had also been charged with theft in wholly unrelated circumstances. That charge, denounced by that minister as politically motivated, fell apart before reaching trial and the charge was withdrawn.

The worsening economic conditions and rising cost of living have also aided in dulling the populace’s interest and attention to political retribution.

Said Musa has had his share of trials. He has been on trial before the courts of law, before parliament, before commissions of inquiry and before the court of public opinion, and survived. Those so inclined should perhaps contain their schadenfreude.

http://www.flashpointbelize.com/flashpoint+articles.aspx?EntryID=70
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