Two American oil investors Oren Miles and Allen Saum have taken Kimano Barrow and Alredo Acosta to court over Paradise Energy. Paradise Energy received a Production Sharing Agreement (PSA) covering an estimated 14 protected areas to explore for oil. The nominal subscribers of paradise energy are Kimano Barrow and Alfredo Acosta, but according to US investors Allen Saum and Oren Miles, that is not the case. At the time, Barrow and Miles were business associates, and they partnered to setup an oil company, Paradise Energy Limited. Barrow successfully secured an oil concession. Things went sour when Barrow and Acosta claimed full ownership of the company and was well in advance to sell out the shares to Treaty Energy who has partnered with Princess Petroleum ltd. Attorney for Allen Saum, Hubert Elrington, says that they were in court this morning, that is because his client has secured an injunction on the sale.
Hubert Elrington, Attorney at Law They claimed that they did not know much about the investment climate in Belize and that they did not know much about the government’s psyche in terms of how it would treat investors etc. So they felt that they needed to have Belizeans working along with them and they gave to Belizeans thirty percent of the company free of cost and they kept seventy percent of the company and that’s the first company Miles Tropical Energy. Now, the way it is normally done in Belize, when you form a company and foreigners are involved, the foreigner cannot be a shareholder of a company in Belize, before getting the permission to be a shareholder of the Central Bank. So what would normally be done by attorneys and I think that it is the standard practice, in all the attorneys’ offices, to find two trustworthy people who would sign the articles and the memorandum as subscribers. Tom and Miles are saying that that is what happened when they set up their first company, but when they set up the second company, all of a sudden, the two Belizean subscribers said to them ‘You know we are the legal holders, so we are saying that we own the company; you no longer own this company.’
We asked Elrington to elaborate on the impact that the case may have on INVESTOR confidence.
Hubert Elrington This is an extremely important case and I think that the Belizean people need to really pay attention to this case, because what the investors are saying is that they said that at first they had some reservations about coming to Belize to do this kind of investment. Now, when they would put the entire welfare of this country at risk by shady practices, it is time for the government to set up some kind of filter mechanism to make sure that people who hang around ministers and hang around ministries and introduce people to minister and introduce people to ministries and are operating as facilitators for investors who come in here, some system has to be done to put in place to license them and to make sure that they are people of integrity and honesty; otherwise, it would mean that no investor can come in here and invest with any kind of confidence.
Elrington questioned the reaction from government. That is because since the court action commenced, Saum’s and Miles’ other company, Miles Tropical Energy, has received letters from the Geology and Petroleum department stating that they are behind in paper work. Elrington believes that the government should have come to the aid of the investors they are being attacked.
Hubert Elrington In Action No. 679 of 2011, they have taken out an action or a claim against Kimano Barrow and Alfredo Acosta, who is also known as Freddy Acosta for various declarations and the principle one of which is that they are the equitable owners of the company, Kimano Barrow and Alfredo Acosta are trustees and these trustees are turning around and are in fact trying to steal the company. There is a mechanism, an administrative mechanism up in the ministry of Natural Resources in the Department of Geology and Petroleum that will come to investigate what is happening. This is a funny case because already these people have been served with a notice from Geology and Petroleum that they are behind with some filing and they may get their license cancelled all that kind of thing. So instead of coming to the rescue of the investors, the department of government appears to be siding with an even attacking the investors.
The case has been adjourned to this Friday at 9am – when the injunction expires.
Trouble in Paradise; Oilmen, Barrow and Saum in Court
There is trouble in paradise for Kimano Barrow and Alfredo Acosta, as the injunction filed against Paradise Energy Limited continues to be in effect. Their oil contract was signed in June 2010, and shortly after its release, other shareholders appeared, including Oren F. Miles I and II, and Allen Saum. Saum and Miles, also principals in Miles Tropical Energy, fell out of favor with Barrow and Acosta. Now both groups are fighting over ownership of Paradise Energy since Acosta and Barrow alleged that Saum filed bogus ownership documents in the Capital. The four oil men squared off in the Supreme Court today with their attorneys. Acosta and Barrow were represented by Naima Barrow while Miles and Saum were represented by Hubert Elrington. After leaving the chambers of Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin, Elrington said the injunction was slated to expire today, however, it continues to remain in effect. Chief Justice Benjamin will make a decision about the trouble in Paradise on the twenty ninth.