3 weeks ago, we showed you the press conference, which Prime Minister Dean Barrow held to address the scandal of the land compensation racket. He announced that Gaspar Vega had resigned from the Cabinet as a minister after it became public that under his watch, his son, Andre, received 400 thousand dollars in compensation for a piece land that the Ministry of Natural Resources sold to him. The Lands Department knew that the land was private, and that they should not have sold it, but they did so anyway. The new Minister of Natural Resources, Vanessa Retreage, declared that the Government would seek the return of that 400 thousand dollars of taxpayers money which was given to Andre Vega as compensation.
Well, a late evening press release notes that the Government has already started the process. They're asking Andre Vega and attorney Sharon Pitts to pay back the compensation they received. You'll remember that she also received 400 thousand dollars as compensation when it was revealed that government sold her a piece of pre-owned private land.
Government's press release, says, quote, "letters were sent to both persons on 31st October, 2016 demanding the repayment to the Government of Belize…of $400,000.00." End quote.
The grounds on which the Government is demanding the repayment are quote, "Both Ms. Pitts and Mr. Vega, upon collection of the 'compensation; amounts, made certain representations and warranties which were breached and, by the terms of the agreement with the Government of Belize, agreed to 'indemnify and keep indemnified' the Government 'from and against all proceedings, costs, claims, expenses, liabilities whatsoever that may directly or indirectly arise from the breach of the warranties and representations.'" End quote.
The press release says that Pitts and Vega have been given a 30-day deadline to respond to the demands. After that, the Government quote, "will assume that the contents of this letter have been received and ignored and, (will) proceed to take any and all action necessary to ensure the full recovery of all moneys to which the Government of Belize is entitled, without further notice" to either of them.