Last week we told you that Lord Ashcroft's British Caribbean Bank and the Belize Bank had won a major victory in the Supreme Court. A decision from Justice John Muria permitted the bank to enforce a 43 million dollar arbitral award plus interest against the government of Belize.

It is a very damaging decision for the Government of Belize and it legally obligates them to pay the money to the Banks, or else….

Today the Prime Minister told me he was taken completely off guard by the decision and that government is fighting to have it appealed.

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Extreme concern, we did not expect in the least the decision. We are going to appeal it naturally. The appeal will be filed this week, I would think by tomorrow, certainly not later than Friday and we are going to be asking for a stay of execution while the appeal is being heard. We hope that we will have a better result in the Court of Appeal and if not, we will go to the CCJ. This is something that we are going to resist, we maintain that this has nothing to do with Telemedia, I hope people realize that, this was with the Belize Bank and at the time Carlisle Holdings controlled by Aschroft and this arose out of a settlement deed that the last administration signed which exempted all the bank's interests from paying taxes in perpetuity, just taxes to the people and government of Belize. As far as we are concerned, the last prime minister, the last administration had no authority on the law to sign such an agreement, we therefore insist that it is illegal as well as immoral and we are going to fight like the devil to ensure that ultimately that we do not pay this thing."

Jim McFadzean
"And what do you say to your critics that keep saying that the government is constantly spending all this money on attorney fees trying to defend these legal rulings in the courts?"

Prime Minister Dean Barrow
"Well we are certainly not spending as much as we would have given up had we agreed to honor the illegal settlement deed, the illegal accommodation agreement and there are certain things that if I might borrow the word from the commercial are priceless. This is a matter of national dignity, this is a matter of national pride, and this is a matter of insistence on national rights."

British Caribbean Bank Holdings issued a statement yesterday quoting CEO, Lyndon Guiseppi as saying that it confirms the Bank's long-held position that "international arbitrations are binding" on the government and they "can be enforced in Belize."

Channel 7