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#518294 - 10/14/16 11:25 AM Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle  
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On the heels of what seemed to be a less than productive meeting with the executive of the BNTU, Prime Minister Dean Barrow refused to entertain any questions about his former Deputy and senior UDP Minister Gaspar Vega.

Vega has been named in what has all the appearances of institutionalized and massive misappropriation of funds from public coffers at the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR).

In copies of official MNR documents leaked to the Reporter this week, there is concrete, black and white evidence that two very well-connected UDP-affiliated individuals were able to turn a few thousands dollars into hundreds of thousands – $800,000, to be exact.

The process appears bizarrely uncomplicated. In a simplified nutshell, just for background, an individual applies for permission to survey a parcel of land. The parcel is inspected to ensure that it is free of encumbrances, meaning it is not leased or owned. The results of that internal investigation are passed upwards and permission is then granted to survey.

The applicant can then apply to purchase, and the Minister has to approve after he is satisfied that all conditions have been met. A cost is assessed and the successful applicant is then given a title to the parcel of land.

In the documents in the Reporter’s possession, the land in question is 2.75 acres near Mile 5 on the Philip Goldson Highway – seafront prime property. In 2011 attorney Sharon Pitts applied for permission to survey the entire parcel. It went through the process, at which point it was discovered that the land was privately owned, and had been so since 1988.

Pitts’ permission to survey was revoked by Ministry bureaucrats. But then, through a directive from Minister Gaspar Vega, who was informed that the land was privately owned, she was given 1.626 acres of that same prime property, for which she paid $10,569 and was granted title.

The remaining portion of the 2.75 acres in question – 1.057 acres, was then given by Minister Gaspar Vega to his campaign manager and employee, Hilmar Alamilla. He instructed bureaucrats to reduce the assessed cost to $2,500.

That was in January 2013. In December, 2013, Alamilla turned around and sold the parcel of land to Minister Vega’s son Andre Antonio Vega, for $15,000. So at that point, Andre Vega became the titleholder of that parcel of land.

According to the documents, in 2015 the Ministry of Natural Resources then chose to reacquire the property from the secondary titleholders, Pitts and Vega, since it was already privately owned in its entirety. So in January 2015, the Ministry of Natural Resources chose to pay attorney Sharon Pitts $400,000 to compensate her for her investment of $10,569.

In September, 2015, it was Andre Vega’s turn to benefit. The Ministry of Natural Resources entered into an agreement to also pay him $400,000 to acquire his portion of land for which he had paid $15,000.

Barrow refused to speak about the matter though there are credible reports that the documents leaked this week may have contributed to Vega being stripped of that portfolio in 2015.

We’ll keep following this story, as we have been told there are many more documents detailing the same types of transactions which have been leaked and will be disseminated.

The Reporter

#518312 - 10/15/16 04:57 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Sharon Got Compensated Too

Last night, we walked you through the land deal, which allowed Andre Vega, the son of former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega to make a major come-up at the cost of the government purse. For $15,000 dollars, Vega flipped ownership of a piece of land near Haulover Bridge, and he was compensated $400 thousand dollars from the Ministry Natural Resources, a Ministry which his father, Gaspar Vega, was running at the time.

Well, that's only half the story, what if we told you that the Government lost an additional $400,000 which it had to pay to Sharon Pitts for an adjoining property?

She entered the picture before Andre Vega back 2011, when the land was actually owned by Russell Carlton. That land is a total of 2.75 acres, and it is located near the Haulover Bridge.

She applied in 2011 to survey the entire 2.75 acres of the land; that permit was granted. A few weeks later, a lands surveyor investigated and found out that the land was privately owned. In November 2011, the Lands Department revoked that Sharon Pitts' permission to survey the land, which proves that the officials knew that it was private land that they are not to sell. They also had given her another permit to survey 1.5 acres, a portion of the total land in question. In July 2012, the then Lands Minister, Gaspar Vega, approved Pitt's purchase of the 1.5 acres of the already privately owned land for a little over $10,500.

By that time, the Government was legally at fault for selling this piece of land twice, and on December 1, 2015, the Government had to compensate her for the entirety of the original 2.75 acres of land at 400,000 dollars. So, to cover that questionable paper ownership they committed to paying her 100 thousand dollars up front, and 50 thousand dollar instalments every month after that until the full sum was paid.

For the past 2 days, we've been trying to reach Pitts via text message and phone calls to her office number and cell number, and she has been unavailable. Someone did answer her cell phone today, and when we identified ourselves, that person hung up the phone.

Channel 7

#518351 - 10/17/16 12:25 PM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Gapi Vega resigns?

Glenn Tillett: My confidential sources are insisting that former Deputy Prime Minister and Orange Walk North area representative Gapi Vega has tendered his resignation from the Cabinet effective as of today.

#518361 - 10/18/16 05:34 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Vega Resigns From Cabinet, Was He Forced Out Due To Scandal?

And while the unions continue to dominate the news, today politics was making news that would have been a headline on any other day. Last week, the media broke the news about an ugly land scandal. It involved the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega and his son Andre Vega. Andre Vega was given title for a piece of land near the Haulover Bridge - land which was already owned by someone else. The Ministry was warned about this - but the title was still issued to a Vega's right hand man, Hilmar Alamilla for a pittance, $2,500 dollars. He sold it to Andre Vega for fifteen thousand, who was then entitled to compensation at market value because the government had given him title to land which was already owned. That compensation was valued at four hundred thousand dollars, and though there is a very long queue of persons waiting for compensation - Vega got pushed right to the top, where he got one hundred grand up front and fifty thousand every month. He got his last payment at the end of March, meaning that he had made a profit of over two thousand percent, thanks to taxpayer dollars.

The enormity of the scandal couldn't be denied and after roughly brushing off the press last week Thursday, by Friday the Prime Minister had to dig into the depths of the ugly scandal. After discussions with Vega over the weekend - the PM held a press conference this afternoon to say Vega had resigned from Cabinet. It is the lowest point for the Barrow Administration, which is going through its second scandal induced cabinet shakeup in just a few months. And for the former Deputy Prime Minster to go out on such a low, the PM was clearly beleaguered.

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"I accepted the resignation of the Hon. Gaspar Vega from the cabinet of Belize - his resignation as a minister of government. I must make clear that Gaspar said to me that he would never knowingly have signed titles to land that didn't belong to government. He made clear that he recognizes that in all the circumstances, especially given that his son became the "owner" of one of the two parcels and was paid compensation after the facts were discovered in terms of the titles having issued in error. In all the circumstances his position naturally became untenable. He is certainly not prepared to put himself and his family through the ringer. As of now Gaspar is not resigning from the House of Representatives and will, it appears for the foreseeable future continue to represent his people in Orange Walk North."

"I am extremely saddened by what has happened. Gaspar Vega certainly was with me as my deputy from the time we first won in 2008 and before that he was one of the fieriest battlers and most effective leaders of the United Democratic Party."

"In addition to all that, he was and remains my personal friend. He is one of the most warm-hearted, caring, genuine individuals that I have had the good fortune to come across."

New “Lands” Minister Catalogues Compensation Racket

And so while that is the political dimension of the scandal - which has forced a rapid fall from grace for the man who was deputy Prime Minister up to 11 months ago - there is the administrative side of it. Someone has to dig into this compensation case, and the larger racket that was being run with undeserving compensations being awarded. That person in the new Minister of Natural Resources Vanessa Retreage. Speaking at the press conference, she said that everything about this transaction was wrong, and it now has to be made right:...

Hon. Vanessa Retreage, Minister of Natural Resources
"It is clear that the government of Belize did not have the right to issue title to land which it did not own. I have given a deadline for the close of business on Wednesday of this week for the information to be provided to me and then thereafter a final decision will be made as to what action will be taken in relation to this matter."

"And where it is found that monies have been paid out wrongfully, such monies must be recovered. Unjust enrichment at the expense of government cannot be countenance."

After laying out the official position Retreage delved into the details of this dirty deal - which saw four hundred thousand dollars in compensation go to Andre Vega, and another four hundred thousand go to attorney Sharon Pitts. Now most of the details have already been revealed by the media, but Retreage outlined the evidence from the records at Natural Resources. It started in 2011 when Sharon Pitts was wrongly given permission to survey a parcel of land for which title had already been given in 1988:..

Hon. Vanessa Retreage, Minister of Natural Resources
"The file contains a copy of a letter dated third November, 2011 addressed to Sharon Pitts informing her that the permission to survey had been revoked, as the land, quote, is not available to let, end quote. Despite the above, a survey plan done at the request of Ms. Pitts was examined, approved and authenticated by the Lands Department on eight November, 2011. There is no indication on the file as to who authorized what effectively amounted to a cancellation of the original survey done by Mr. Carlton Russell. It is important to understand therefore that from the date this plan was authenticated, whenever a search in the mapping section was done the only survey which would show as being valid would now be the Pitts' survey."

"The minutes of the file further indicate that on 25th November 2011, there were concerns from the commissioner about the availability of this land, but it also indicates that persons within the mapping department within the Lands Department indicated that the land was national land. Sharon Pitts was issued a lease approval on 16th November 2011. There is no sign acceptance on conditions of the lease, but on 22nd November 2011, Ms. Pitts applied for a grant of the said land and it is noted that the application was received by the commissioner of lands and surveys on that said date. On 30th November, the minister approved the sale at a purchase price of $10,569."

"The commissioner did not provide a written report to the minister and made no recommendation for the sale of this parcel of land. The full purchase price was paid on July twenty-fourth, 2012. The minister's fiat grant was presented to the minister for signature on the fourth of September, 2012 and was issued on the twenty-fourth of September 2012. I wish to state here that the minutes of the file I received jumped from minute number seven to minute number twenty-five, so that minute eight to twenty-four is missing from the file. The compensation file to Ms. Pitts. On October twenty-second, 2014, Mr. Philip Zuniga wrote to the Commissioner of Lands and Survey requesting revocation of grants to Sharon Pitts and Hilmar Alamilla. On ninth, December 2014, legal counsel within the ministry advised that an investigation would have to be carried out to determine if this is the same land and if so, government could not have issued title to land which was privately owned since 1988. On fifteenth December, 2014, the acting principal surveyor issued a memo where he actually confirmed that the land was indeed owned by Miguel Valencia and that title was issued erroneously."

"The compensation was stated to be $400,000 for Ms. Sharon Pitts, plus .63 acres of land. the money was paid by way of an initial payment in the amount of $1,000.00 on March 11, 2015, with payments of $50,000 per month continuing until 11th September 2015 when the last payment was made. It is important to note that the valuation reports done by Mr. Castillo, which was used a basis for the payment to Ms. Pitts was dated in 2013, well before the letter was sent to Ms. Pitts and the valuation at that time at 1.7 million dollars."

Eventually, compensation was paid for four hundred thousand dollars. But that's only half the land. The other half went to Vega Associate Hilmar Alamilla for a pittance, who then sold it to Andre Vega. Vega also got compensated for four hundred thousand dollars. Retreage also outlined that case:

Hon. Vanessa Retreage, Minister of Natural Resources
"On December 12, 2012, Mr. Alamilla lodge an application to lease 1.124 acres of national land. This application though dated 10th January, 2012 was not lodge with the lands department until 12th December, 2012. On 15th January 2013, the commissioner of lands and surveys made a recommendation to the minister for the sale of the land to Mr. Alamilla of $6,171. On 16th January 2013, the land purchase approval issued to Hilmar Alamilla with the purchase price being stated at $6,171 was shown to contain a note from the then minister which was dated 23 January 2013, directing that the purchase be reassess for $2,500. On January 31, the purchase price was paid in full. The grant of national land was issued on 7th May, 2013. On December 30th, 2013, title to the land was transferred to Andre Antonio Vega for a sum of $15,000. In July of the same year, the land was mortgage to the Atlantic Bank. The Hilmar Alamilla compensation file - On July 27, 2015, a letter was sent from the commissioner of lands and survey indicating that there was duplication and the commissioner expressed an understanding that Andre Vega was willing to surrender his title to the government for the sum of $400,000. Mr. Vega wrote to the ministry and accepted the offer of the government. Payments were made to Andre Vega commencing on 14 September, 2015 with an initial payment of $100,000 and continued at $50,000 per month until the last payment was made on 8th March, 2016."

"The emergence of this file now means that I must review all compensation files and my CEO has advised me that the issue of compensation payments was being examined by the auditor general and that she concluded her examination of the same late last year, so that we should see a report from the auditor general in relation to these matters."

Sharon, Super-Patriot Turned Into Wheeler-Dealer?

What about the other person who got a major come up off the land? We already heard how the Government will try to get back that money from Andre Vega, but they did not say what they will do about Sharon Pitts. For 2 days last week, we had been trying our very best to get a comment from her as to the validity of her compensation of 400 thousand dollars.

She hadn't made herself available to us, but today, we got a statement from her which says, quote, "I applied for some 2.5 acres National Land near mile 5 and was issued Lease for (a) reduced amount of 1.6 acres, and on purchase thereafter, obtained title via the Lands Department. I did not know it was private land. Based on my title to the land, I had a legitimate expectation that I would be legally compensated the market value as the norm.

1 Accepted the amount of $400,000, and maintain ownership of the portion which was finally reduced to 0.6 acres not affected by the mistake as a basis for settlement though I felt it was well below market value. My greatest care continues to be for our country, Belize." End quote.

And that last part her statement appears to be in line with the public persona of Sharon Pitts. She rose to prominence as an ultra-nationalist back in 2008 when she stoned egg at the late Belizean ambassador to Guatemala Fred Martinez.

Here she is back in 2008 when she explained why she threw the eggs:

Sharon Pitts,
"I believe I sent a message. As the poster says: Belize da fi we. No ICJ, No Compris.' What I was saying to Fred Martinez is that they have betrayed the interest of this country."

Jules Vasquez,
But you stoned with eggs.

Sharon Pitts,
"Jules, egg I use to bake cake; we won't get into that. Gibson came out and I told him as I had said when Rhampal came that they are like little boys in short pants diplomats, they've forgotten the lessons of Phillip Goldson."

Jules Vasquez,
How far will you go with your campaign of resistance, almost insurgent?

Sharon Pitts,
"Mr. Goldson has said when a baby which appears defenceless is in danger, the one thing the baby has is his God given mouth, divine providence. We will pray and we will cry out against the injustice, righteous indignation against the wrong that's being done to this country."

Jules Vasquez,
You realize you risk arrest?

Sharon Pitts,
`"I don't know that I risk arrest."

Jules Vasquez,
You assaulted someone.

Sharon Pitts,
"I am not saying I did anything to anyone."

Jules Vasquez,
I am saying it today.

Sharon Pitts,
"Jules you could say what you want. You could cry Rome. My position is when it comes to this country, they are risking the demise of this country."

And as you heard, Pitts whose now caught up in this deeply dubious deal says, My greatest care continues to be for our country."

CEO Struggled With, Froze Compensation Payouts

And, clearly this kind of thing, this undue compensation had been taxing the entire Ministry, and today the CEO, Sharon Ramclam says she had to put a stop to compensation payouts:...

Sharon Ramclam, CEO - Lands Department
"On the matter of compensation, I have belabored this point many times over at the CEO caucus and it's very frustrating. When I took over the ministry in March 2014 and compensation requests were presented to me, my briefing from the legal counsel and the commissioner on those cases was essentially thorough and in many instances were as a result of duplications. In October 2015, I decided to suspend the processing of any new compensation as a result of alleged duplication and requested the intervention of the office of the solicitor general to give an interpretation on the process for dealing with compensations. We proceeded to honor those compensations for court judgments but any new voluntary compensation were suspended. In January 2016, I assembled a very small team in the ministry to scrutinize all compensation files in order for us to identify what gave rise to those compensation and what we need to do to arrest the situation. We are still quantifying the total amount outstanding in terms of the compensation. I can tell you that there are numerous cases that have come to my attention. We have recognized that there are several instances where some individuals were overpaid and we are investigating those matters to determine again, as the minister said, how we will deal with those and of course also the numerous cases that have come to our attention. We are looking at hundreds of thousands of files but we are resolved and steadfast in our efforts to make sure that we address the situation."

Tough Questions For PM

So, while Gaspar Vega denies any knowledge that the land was private, in fact he must, because otherwise it would mean that he knowingly forced the government into a situation where his son had to be compensated. The documents we have seen says that the Lands Department surveyors told their bosses from as early as 2011 that this piece of land near the Haulover Bridge is private land, and not available for the Government to sell.

As we told, Sharon Pitts, who also got 400 thousand dollars in compensation, received a permit to survey, and it was canceled because the Lands Department confirmed that it was private. Today, the press challenged the Prime Minister on the assertion that Vega is innocent of abuse of the public trust, and here's how that exchange went:

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Is this not an instance of corruption itself sir and will you as the leader of the country take steps to recommend an audit of his term and possibly a criminal investigation?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Sir, you've just heard the attorney general say that an audit has been completed. The findings of the auditor general will no doubt be released shortly. The question of the compensation in this case large, tax payers want to know that we will seek to recover the compensation and I told you that we will and the investigation is ongoing. The minister of lands try to detail for you all that happened, but expressly said that there are certain things that are still unclear."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"Does it take glaring inescapable evidence for you to force your hand against ministers within your government?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"It takes evidence and when that evidence is forthcoming, I will. I have acted in the past and I will continue to act."

Mike Rudon, Belize Times
"At least on 3 separate occasions, the people in the ministry say 'you know what this land is not available to let, its private land'."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Man stop right there. There is nothing on the file that says that. Queries were raised admittedly. There is nothing on the file that says 'minister this land is private land, it is not available,' so please."

Mike Rudon, Belize Times
"Sir, at least separate occasions - there is a document which says this is private land and it's signed and it's attached to a copy of Carlton Russell's title document."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"When was that? You know what, I'm not going to argue with you Mike, because the current minister has the custody of the file and as I said I went through it and I certainly saw nothing that indicated what you say is the case and that the minister was told the land was private."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"For those listening, if they are concern that this is another example of you and your government explaining a way the actions of those within your government and the public service, can you assure us that this is not what you are doing currently?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"We are giving an account of the incident to the public as we are obliged to do. Explaining away suggests that we are making excuse, we are trying to shy away from the hard decisions. My God man, the minister is gone."

As you heard, the Prime Minister did not exactly address our question about a criminal investigation, and so we asked once again, if Gaspar Vega is being given an easy out, where a lawsuit for misfeasance is being avoided. Here's how the Prime Minister answered that one:

Jules Vasquez, 7News
"Has there been talk that as a part of the easy out, Mr. Vega will resign and that Mr. Andre Vega will kindly repay the money without the government having to go through the what internally would be unsavory, externally would be imminently satisfying, but what will be internal and savory of the government having to take Mr. Vega's son at least to court and perhaps involving Mr. Vega in some way, in what the PUP has suggested could be an act of malfeasants?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"I don't know how any circumstance which has seen Hon. Vega put an end to his career as a minister, in circumstances where he and his family have been under tremendous assault and pressure. I don't know how that could be described as an easy way out."

"Certainly in terms of the compensation, in the course of my communications with Gaspar, I did indicate from the start that government would be seeking to recover the compensation paid and so he knows that as soon as the current minister and attorney general can get her ducks in a row - she is a very brilliant lawyer. Maybe that's why she is brilliant because she is careful. But Gaspar knows that a demand letter will be written to Mr. Andre Vega seeking the return of the monies. As to what would be Mr. Andre Vega's position when that happens, I don't know. Gaspar couldn't say, because Gaspar Vega is Gaspar Vega and Andre Vega is Andre Vega."

So, all that remains at this time is for the Auditor General to release her report on the Lands Department. What will it reveal? That remains to be seen, but today, we asked the Prime Minister if he is concerned that her investigation could reveal that others within the UDP Government will be exposed in scandalous allegations. Here's what he had to say:

Jules Vasquez, 7News
"Are you concerned that at the end of even a bursary review, many players in your government, their names may be called for having received compensation and or discounts, because we know that it's a family affair?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow - Prime Minister
"Jules, I will have to go back to what I said earlier. Whatever the results of the audit into the question of compensation are, whatever those results are, any aspects that assigns blame to any member of the cabinet in a way that's actionable politically, from my point of view, will see me doing the right thing. I clearly earnestly hope that the report will turn up no such circumstances. But I concede from now the clear possibility that the opposite might be true."

Today the PUP issued a statement saying, quote, " The documents leaked from the Ministry have revealed that not only Andre Vega but Sharon Pitts benefitted from no less than institutionalized corruption in the Ministry," The PUP surmises that, quote, "Vega used his office as Minister of Natural Resources in an improper, highly unethical… manner." The statement concludes saying, quote, "the People's United Party calls for an immediate criminal investigation into this outrageous corruption at the Ministry of Natural Resources."

Channel 7

#518799 - 11/08/16 04:31 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Vega Not Resigning, Just Retiring, Eventually

The UDP just completed one year in office for their third term - and, politically, it's been the worst year ever for Gaspar Vega. The man who helped deliver five of eight seats for the UDP in the north first went from Lands Minister to Agriculture Minister, then from Deputy Party Leader to Standard Bearer, then from Deputy Prime Minister to just another minister, and then, finally, last month to no minister at all, after he resigned from Cabinet - under extreme public pressure and outcry. Now, the UDP's former King In The North is no longer in Cabinet, and the question many are asking is will he take that final step and resign as area representative for Orange Walk North, and be replaced in a bye-election? Well on Saturday he held a meeting with his faithful supporters in the constituency he was won three times, and, after, that, he told Dillon Jones from the UDP Friendly Sugar City Morning Show that he's not going anywhere:...

"Is Gaspar Vega resigning?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, OW North Area Rep.
"No, I'm not resigning. Not because some person who probably has never liked me and would never like me, is asking for my resignation. I was elected to serve this term. I have told my people that I will do that. I also told them that I will not be participating to be re-elected in the next general election. I resigned from the cabinet for different reasons. But at the end of the day my number one responsibility is to serve my constituents in Orange Walk North and that is what I am planning to do."

"Some people have the general sentiments out there that there is a bad blood between you and the Prime Minister. Can you clear the air for this?"

Hon. Gaspar Vega, OW North Area Rep.
"That's not true. The Prime Minister and I have always been friends. Even before politics we were personal friends and that's the last thing I would like to lose because of politics. Besides politics we are friends."

Vega says he plans to be actively involved in finding a successor and ensuring that person's success over the PUP in Orange Walk North.

Channel 7

#518806 - 11/08/16 05:45 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Ensuring he protects himself from prosecution as long as possible.

Belize based travel specialist
#518834 - 11/09/16 05:47 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Return the $400,000, GOB tells Pitts and Vega!

Attorney Sharon Pitts and Andre Vega, son of former Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega, both walked away with $400,000 each after a shady land transaction occurred when the senior Vega was the Minister of Natural Resources.

Pitts and Vega were both granted acres of land despite being told on more than one occasion that those lands were already privately owned.

After acquiring the land, the Government of Belize was forced to compensate them so that the land could be returned to its original owner. Both Pitts and Vega each received approximately $400,000 for lands that they had purchased at a price of just a few thousand dollars.

When this scandal broke last month it made headlines and stirred so much controversy that Gaspar Vega was forced to resign from Cabinet with immediate effect.

However, his sacrificial resignation was not enough damage control.

Today, Friday, the Government of Belize released a statement informing the nation that Pitts and Vega have been asked to return the monies they received from those shady transactions.

“As a result of the findings, of the investigation into the matter concerning Ms. Sharon Pitts and Mr. Andre Vega, letters were sent to both persons on October 31, 2016 demanding, the repayment to the Government of Belize the sum of $400,000, which was paid to each of them,” quoted, the press release.

The release claimed that both Pitts and Vega breached the terms of an agreement made with the Government of Belize after they were compensated in the land transaction.

The duo was given thirty days to respond to the letter demanding repayment of the monies received from the land transactions. If they fail to respond, the Government “will proceed to take any and all action necessary to ensure the full recovery of monies,” the statement concluded.


#518840 - 11/09/16 06:55 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Millions more

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#518843 - 11/09/16 09:00 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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It's a start

Take only pictures leave only bubbles
#519766 - 12/14/16 12:13 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
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Digging Deeper Into Vega Family Flipping Scheme

And, as she leaves, the latest breaking land scandal is the one with those 1600 acres of farmland in Carmelita village. PUP Shadow Minister for Natural Resources Cordel Hyde revealed a scheme at Friday's house meeting where 50 regular people got title for adjoining properties in the area and almost immediately flipped it to Vega family members.

Last night, we were showing you but a few of those transactions which ended with both German and Marilene Vega owning the land, but tonight we show you a few of them which ended up with other members of Vega.

Set 20
Here in this document, you'll see that instead of the land being sold to someone and then to the Vega family, the Lands Department immediately sold a piece of land in Carmelta Village to Ignacio Vega Sr. for just over 11,600 dollars.

Set 21
In this one, you see that the Ministry of Natural Resources approved the transfer of another piece of land in Carmelita to Karen S. Vega.

But, then, as we inspect further, we notice something very strange. The documents for some reason don't add up. For all the others for German Vega's company series, it starts out with someone else buying the land first, and then selling it to German Vega and Sons Import Limited a short time after. But later on the person in the middle appears to sell the land to German Vega's company before they bought it from the Lands Ministry!

Set 31
Take for example this one. The Natural Resources Ministry approves Marco Antonio Miranda to buy a piece of land in Carmelita on September 2, 2013. He pays just under $2,500 for the transfer.

Set 31a
Then in this document, it says that Marco Antonio Miranda sold the land to German Vega's company on August 27, 2013, 5 days before he bought the land! So, how it that he could sell something he doesn't have? Nevertheless, he collects $15,000 for it

Set 32
The same thing happened in this transaction for Rosalyn Cruz. The document says that also on September 2, 2013, the Ministry allowed her to buy a piece of land in Carmelita. Then in this one, it says that she sold it to German Vega's company on August 27, 2013, 5 days before she was allowed to buy it. Again, she collects $15,000.

We've seen at least 2 other persons with the same discrepancy, and so today, the asked Retreage and the Prime Minister about the discrepancies. She said she only became aware of the suspect scheme when Cordel Hyde revealed it last week:

Hon. Vanessa Retreage, Departing Min. of Natural Resources
"When I heard the presentation by Mr. Hyde in the house, of course it caused concern for me. It is an issue that I would not have looked at had it not been brought to my attention and still it has only been brought to my attention as I have seen the pictures and the documents but that concerned public officers in the Ministry of Natural Resources, was not so concerned to bring it to my attention so that I could address it. So I wonder what was the mischief trying to be created because nobody brought it officially to my attention. I had only been privy to what has been said in the media and I have not seen the documents at all in relation to what was referred to."

Mike Rudon, BZ Times
"There are about 55 different documents in which the then Minister of Natural Resources, Gaspar Vega, transferred lands in a specific block to these persons and they immediately turned around and transferred it to his brother and to his wife, all the documents are here. Can we ask the PM if something like that would raise eyebrows or at least illicit an investigation of some sort?"

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"I don't know that there is any need for an investigation. If the facts are as you say and as the honorable member for Lake Independence recited, then that is to be condemned out of hand. There's no need for any investigation. All I'm saying is we are prepared to accept what is wrong and we are prepared to ensure that consequences attach to the wrong doer. That is the difference between this administration and the last administration."

Mike Rudon, BZ Times
"I have here a bunch of documents where the land was given to people in August and they transferred it the month before they got it, so they had already transferred the land to Ignacio German Vega before they even got it from the Government of Belize and it's a whole sheaf of documents."

Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
"If that is so that it may well be that those transfers are not valid and as the attorney general said, nobody brought the file to her but we are happy to receive your documents and she will no doubt call on the officials to do that to the extent that anything can be properly set aside because there was failure to comply with the law, it will be set aside."

Channel 7

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