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#518294 - 10/14/16 11:25 AM Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 53,986
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

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Pitts’ permission to survey was revoked by Ministry bureaucrats.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


#518351 - 10/17/16 12:25 PM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 53,986
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
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.

#518806 - 11/08/16 05:45 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,334
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Ensuring he protects himself from prosecution as long as possible.


Belize based travel specialist
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#518834 - 11/09/16 05:47 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 53,986
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline
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.

Amandala

#518840 - 11/09/16 06:55 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,334
Katie Valk Offline
Katie Valk  Offline
Millions more


Belize based travel specialist
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info@belize-trips.com
#518843 - 11/09/16 09:00 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 5,399
ScubaLdy Offline
.
ScubaLdy  Offline
It's a start


Harriette
Take only pictures leave only bubbles
#519849 - 12/17/16 12:45 AM Re: Gaspar Vega Named in Multi-Million dollar Land Hustle [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 53,986
Marty Offline
Marty  Offline

More on the Vega family land scandal

In August 2012 when word broke that Lands Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Gaspar Vega had been gifting his family prime government land at dirt cheap prices, he defended his actions by saying, “I am not a normal person in Belize. I work much harder than a lot of other people.”

The proud Vega would go on to resign from Cabinet in October of this year when his son, Andre Vega, walked away $400,000 richer from a questionable land transaction which occurred while the senior Vega was Minister of Lands.

With his resignation, many believed that Vega’s name would not pop up again for such things, but it has quickly resurfaced, as a result of revelations made by PUP Deputy Leader Cordel Hyde during the house meeting of December 9.

Hyde revealed that 1,600 acres of farmland outside Carmelita, in the Orange Walk District, were systematically transferred into the hands of three members of the Vega family only weeks after Minister Vega issued them.

In some cases, the lands were transferred to the Vega family even before they were, officially transferred from the Ministry.

Documents leaked to our newspaper confirmed Hyde’s seismic allegations.

For example, Danilo Armando Cu received his land from the Ministry on September 2, 2013, but had already sold it to German Vega and Sons Limited, owned by Minister Vega’s brother, Ignacio German Vega, on August 27, 2013.

Other persons who sold their lands to German Vega and Sons Limited even before they received it include Rosalyn Cruz, Norma Elis Aldana, Marcos Aldana, and Cynthia Alyce Cruz, Narmo Cruz, Faviola Cruz and Angelita Cruz.

Coincidentally, they all received their lands on the same date and conducted transactions with Ignacio German Vega on the same date too.

In the case of persons who sold their lands immediately after it was transferred to them by the Ministry, our newspaper noted several trends.

For example, on July 17, 2013, Minister Gaspar Vega transferred lands to Luis Angel Jimenez and by August 1, 2013, those lands had been transferred to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited.

Strangely, the same thing occurred on the same dates, involving Nazle August, Elias Muñoz, Adelita Muñoz; Normando Muñoz, Shahira Elizabeth Tillett, Hector Godoy, and Araceli Del Carmen August.

Another big day for German Vega and Sons Imports Limited would be July 22, 2014, when it received lands transferred to several persons by the Ministry on July 8, 2014.

Those persons include Josett Justine Hyde, Nortberto Junior Perrera, Rogelio Gregory Cocom and Wayne Mitchell.

Interestingly, Ignacio German Vega, who, as we have said, is the owner of German Vega and Sons Imports Limited, would be directly transferred a piece of land from his brother, Minister Gaspar Vega, on July 22, 2014.

Our newspaper noted several more trends in which groups of lands were issued by Minister Gaspar Vega on one day and then transferred in groups to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited on another day.

Shockingly, the same was done in the case of Marlene Vega, wife of Ignacio German Vega, who had by that time accumulated many parcels of the farm lands.

Hilmar Alamilla, his wife Alma Alamilla and Jane Benita Sealey all received their lands on June 23, 2011, but on November 23 of that same year, they transferred the lands to Marlene Vega.

Ignacio German Vega’s wife was not the only wife involved in these transactions, as Gaspar Vega’s wife, Marilene Roxane Vega, was also actively involved in transactions of this nature.

She, too, was the recipient of lands transferred in groups to her at a date shortly after they were originally transferred from her husband’s ministry.

In August of this year, Prime Minister Dean Barrow appointed Vanessa Retreage as Lands Minister; she had taken over from Senator Minister Godwin Hulse, who had taken over from Gaspar Vega following the 2015 general elections.

Retreage had gone on record to suggest that she would bring order to the Ministry, described by PM Barrow as a hotbed of corruption.

However, at her press conference on Tuesday, where she announced her exit from Cabinet, she conceded that she was clueless about this organized and highly coincidental transfer of 1,600 acres of farmland to the Vega family.

She claimed she only heard of it when the PUP’s Deputy Leader, Cordel Hyde, shared it first in an interview at the start of last week with LOVE FM news and at the House of Representatives meeting held on Friday, December 9.

“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,” she said.

During his presentation at the House sitting on December 9, Hyde claimed that the documents were leaked to him by a concerned public officer.

On Tuesday, Retreage condemned that public official.

“…that concerned public officer 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,” she commented.

Regarding transfers that were made to German Vega and Sons Imports Limited, even before they were transferred from government, the Prime Minister mildly warned, “If that is so, 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.”

When the media asked PM Barrow if there was an investigation into the apparently organized transfer, he said:

“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,” said Barrow.

According to the outgoing Lands Minister, Retreage, she will provide an update on compensations made in shady land transactions before she demits office at the end of the month.

One such compensation involved Ron J. Limited, which was compensated $1 million from government for a land that it had bought from government for only $6,540.30.

While the PUP’s Deputy Leader, Cordel Hyde, revealed that Government had paid out almost $70 million in land compensation since 2008, Retreage told the media that it was a bit less.

However, according to her, those figures will be shared at a later date.

Amandala



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