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#329301 - 03/20/09 01:03 AM Barrow administration was wrong Sorry- thank you!
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Court awards Telemedia 38.5 Million dollars

Remember the Accommodation Agreement? It was signed back in September 2005 between the Government and Telemedia and had been fully implemented by both parties for nearly two and half years. Then soon after assuming office in February 2008, the Barrow administration declared that the agreement was no longer valid. In the months ensuing, it became a rather prickly issue; Telemedia’s top Executive was threatened with arrest and the telephone company was slapped with an increase of more than five percent in business taxes.

So Telemedia turned for readdress to the London Court of International Arbitration pursuant to a provision in its contract with the Government, which provided that any dispute arising from the agreement that cannot be resolved amicably would be referred to the L.C.I.A. The proceedings before the L.C.I.A. commenced in May last year and although G.O.B. was given full notice of the proceedings it chose not to be represented. Well, now a decision was handed down yesterday and it is a major victory for Telemedia who has not only been awarded in excess of thirty-eight point five million dollars in damages for breach of the agreement by the Government, but has had the L.C.I.A. confirm that the Accommodation Agreement is a valid agreement and fully binding upon the Government. Chairman of the Executive Committee of the Board of Telemedia, Dean Boyce, spoke to News Five today about the agreement, the L.C.I.A. award and what it means for employees and shareholders.

Dean Boyce, Executive Chairman, Telemedia

“The accommodation agreement was signed back in 2005 and operated quite successfully through to early 2008 at which time the new administration in February decided that it wouldn’t continue to honor the terms of that agreement. So after that was sort of clear in 2008, we under the contract, for dispute resolution mechanism to go to the court of arbitration to seek a resolution to the problem. And the court has now concluded; made its ruling and has awarded Belize Telemedia thirty-eight and a half million Belize Dollars.”

Jose Sanchez
“The government did not participate in the proceedings in London and it says that the agreement is invalid. How does that impact the judgment?”

Dean Boyce

“The government was entitled to participate in the proceedings and in fact the arbitration—Court of Arbitration had jurisdiction to decide initially whether the contract was a valid one before looking at the extent of the award under the contract and the government was entitled to participate in the discussions and chose not to. But it does not change in any way the validity of the ruling and the courts jurisdiction over this matter. So the award is a valid one and it’s an important one.”

Jose Sanchez
“Who benefits from this award?”

Dean Boyce
“We have almost ninety-five percent of the company is owned by charities. It’s the employees who, the employee’s trust is about twenty-three percent owners of the company and over seventy percent is owned by the Hayword Charitable Trust. And that trust has already made clear its ambitions to develop a number of charitable operations within the country and those charities, therefore, and Belize will benefit directly from this award. In addition to the ninety-five percent to the charities, another eight hundred or so Belizean shareholders that own, collectively, the five percent, they will also directly benefit from this award.”

Jose Sanchez
“Is this binding with the government?”

Dean Boyce
“This is a binding contract. It’s a valid contract from day one. The Court of Arbitration has ruled it is a valid contract. So we’ll certainly continue to work under the contract and we’ll work to our commitments under the contract and what we’d like to do is work with closely with the government going forward in partnership and resolve any of our outstanding issues. I’m sure that’s in the best interest of the country as a whole in many ways so I’m looking forward looking to a change going forward.”

Jose Sanchez

“If the government doesn’t pay, what will you do next?”

Dean Boyce
“Well, I think we have to initially sit down with them and discuss those matters. I don’t think we should jump to the conclusion that they won’t pay. The benefits of continuing with that agreement for the country and for the government is really exceptional if you look at the work we do at the moment; reductions in tariffs, free internet for schools, rural program for deployment of telecommunication services. These are all things the government should be working closely with us and I think they will work closely with us in the future.”

Live and let live

#329568 - 03/21/09 01:37 AM Re: Barrow administration was wrong Sorry- thank you! [Re: Short]
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Ashcroft Gets $77 million Ruling Against GOB But Barrow Won't Pay

Seventy-Seven million Belize Dollars! That’s what the London Court of International Arbitration says the Government of Belize owes Telemedia for damages. That’s a lotta damage! And the London Court says that it’s all because government failed to honor the 2005 Accommodation Agreement. Remember that, one of the documents secretly signed by the Musa Administration?...well this is the one that allows Telemedia to with-hold payments of its taxes until it realizes earnings which amount to what was called a minimum rate of return. That minimum rate was tied into assets Telemedia was made to buy so that the Musa Administration could let Social Security off the hook for guaranteed Intelco debts – which viewers know is a whole other story!

But back to tonight’s story, which is the $77 million government has now been ordered to pay because Prime Minister Dean Barrow says he will not honor Musa’s accommodation agreement. And that’s because as Barrow says in today’s Amandala, the agreement is “immoral” and “shafts” the people of Belize. A less explicit positions statement was put out by government this afternoon which says first that the accommodation agreement is illegal and invalid, and Belizean courts have rejected the position that the Agreement can authorize Telemedia to not pay its taxes. Second, and this is the important part – and we quote – “the government will not be bound by any ruling of a foreign tribunal where that ruling conflicts with a position taken by Belize’s superior courts.”

And third - again, we quote, “any award of damages made by the London Court must be brought to Belize for enforcement by Belize’s Supreme Court before it can have any practical effect.” It continues: “Government is completely confident that it can successfully resist any attempt at local enforcement.....We will defend the national position on national soil.” It is of note that Government did not bother to make any defense before the London Court because from the outset its plan was to wage all legal wars in Belize.

But what is the official position of Telemedia? The telecom giant says it hopes to move forward. Executive Chairman Dean Boyce told the company’s television station Channel 5 last night that he expects government will recognize the merits of the agreement - as being in, “the best interests of the country” and expects that there will be a change in government’s outlook going forward.

Not likely, from what we’ve seen. Government’s statement was issued after that interview and says that “arrangements that are immoral, made in secret and that defy our very democracy, will continue to be resisted at all costs.” With all this said, barring some extraordinary intervention, we expect that hostilities between Lord Ashcroft’s empire and the GOB will now escalate sharply.

Live and let live

#332178 - 04/09/09 12:57 AM Re: Barrow administration was wrong Sorry- thank you! [Re: Short]
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Government granted injunction against Telemedia

A release late this evening from G.O.B. says that Acting Chief Justice Samuel Awich has granted an interim ex parte injunction against Belize Telemedia Ltd and Belize Social Development Limited. According to the Government the injunction restrains them from enforcing the Final Award issued on March 2009 by the London Court of International Arbitration awarding Telemedia thirty eight point five million dollars in damages in respect of breaches by the Government to the 2005 Accommodation Agreement between G.O.B. and the telephone company. The ex parte injunction was granted earlier today and attorneys for Telemedia and the Belize Social Development were not invited to the hearing in Court. The big question that now arises is whether the Government’s injunction is already too late, since the debt owed by G.O.B. under the Final Award has already been assigned to Belize Social Development which News 5 understands is no longer associated with Belize Telemedia and is in fact a foreign corporation now owned by more than nine hundred shareholders.

Live and let live


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