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#523363 - 05/05/17 05:58 AM The Alliance VS. GOB In Court, Part 999  
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For the past 2 days, Attorneys for the Government of Belize and the Ashcroft Alliance have been in court before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin. The Ashcroft company, Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, which used to be named British Caribbean Bank, wants the Central Bank Immunities Act to be struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional.

You'll remember it as the law that the Barrow Administration passed in January to protect the Central Bank's foreign currency reserves. That's because they were convinced that the Ashcroft companies would attempt to attach those assets to collect on an arbitral award of 50 million US dollars. US Courts have already handed down a ruling which allows Alliance to enforce the award against the Government of Belize.

The Government insists that it won't pay a cent, and so the Alliance has been trying to force its hand. All that's been preventing them is an interim injunction granted by Justice Michelle Arana and the Central Bank Immunities Act which makes it a criminal offense to go after the Central Bank's assets. The Ashcroft Company, Caribbean Investments Holdings Limited, has already argued a case before Chief Justice Benjamin as to why that injunction should be lifted, and a decision in that is pending.

So, in the two-day trial, they tackled the other obstacle in the way, the Central Bank Immunities Act, but the Chief Justice had to hear two claims against the same law. The first is from Caribbean Investments, and the next is from Courtenay Coye LLP, which is the law firm of the Ashcroft Alliance's chief lawyer, Eamon Courtenay. The attorneys from this law firm have taken the position that the law unfairly criminalizes the actions of any lawyer who advises litigants trying to enforce arbitration awards.

So, as we're sure you've gathered, it's heavy stuff, since the Central Bank Immunities Act is seeking to protect the bank's reserves, which are the cornerstone of the country's economy.

Just after noon today, the Chief Justice finally closed the case after hearing arguments from all parties in these lawsuits. Our news team was right outside the court to ask the Government and Ashcroft attorneys to briefly discuss their arguments:

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for CIHL
"The law specifically says that if you act as an advisor to a person who attempts to do the things define in the legislation, you commit a criminal offence. The government has rather strangely written a letter saying that they don't interpret "advisor" to mean a law firm or to be attorneys. Well a lot of my work and the lot of the work of attorneys is advising people. So that's a bizarre position to take for the government, but that is their position. We have no confidence in that. Mr. Hawke, the solicitor general says that he is not aware of any attempt to go after any attorney. That may be the position today, it might not be the position tomorrow and so we need the courts determination of what the legislation says."

"In so far as Caribbean Investment Holding is concern, the argument is essentially this: where you have a judgement or an arbitral award in your favor, the courts has said that that constitutes property. In other words there is an order from a court that somebody is to pay you money. That is property in of itself. What we are saying is that if you pass a law that when it is applied renders that judgement that you have, nugatory, which is of no effect. You can't do anything with it. Then that amounts to an arbitrary deprivation of your property. You might as well tear up the judgement because you can't enforce it. So we say there is a violation of a right to property by an arbitrary deprivation when the legislation is implemented."

"We say secondly, that a party who is in Belize has a right to due process of law to pursue his issues in the courts of this jurisdiction and the courts of other jurisdiction."

Nigel Hawke, Acting Solicitor General
"The court heard arguments yesterday and today in relation to charges to both the amendment to the crown proceedings act and the central bank immunity act of 2017. The most I will say, we had fruitful arguments, the matter is now before the judge. I don't want to prejudice anything, so the most I will say, we advance our arguments as to the constitutionality of the legislation. Some of the things that they've argued in relation to and when it for the improper purpose...we basically submitted to the court that the final court has pronounce on those matters already and our submission is that they are fundamentality seeking to enforce a judgement that our final court has pronounce. It is not enforceable, because it is against our legal order of the constitution on Belize."

Daniel Ortiz, 7News
"If I understand the fundamentals of why this law was passed in the first place, the central bank immunities act, is to protect Belize's foreign reserves. Should this law fall, are you clients giving an undertaking that they will not go after the central bank's assets in trying to seek enforcement of this award?"

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Attorney for CIHL
"I think you are being humorous and so I am going to laugh and that's my answer to that."

In this case, Courtenay, Illiana Swift, and Angeline Welch, appeared on behalf Caribbean Investment's Holdings Limited. The law firm, Courtenay Coye LLP, was represented by Magali Marin Young and Illiana Swift, and the Government of Belize was represented by Acting Solicitor General Nigel Hawke and Crown Counsel Briana Williams.

The judge has reserved judgement to be delivered at a later date in this lawsuit. He was supposed to hand down a judgement in the injunction case today, but that has been postponed until next week Thursday.

Channel 7


#525126 - 08/12/17 05:23 AM Re: The Alliance VS. GOB In Court, Part 999 [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 54,557
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Eamon Courtney says Ashcroft pursuing Central Bank reserves, a laughing matter

Lord Michael Ashcroft and his Belizean business interests are once again on a full-court press against the Belizean people. They seek to undo the law that is keeping Belize’s foreign reserves, and the country’s economy protected. The Alliance is seeking to get the Central Bank Immunity Act struck down by the Supreme Court and declared unconstitutional.

Readers will remember that this law and the Amendment to the Crown Proceedings Act were passed by the Barrow Administration. It was necessary because the UDP government realized that the Ashcroft Alliance may be eyeing those funds. So, the Government passed the Central Bank law to ensure that those reserves are out of their reach.

That was necessary because a US court already granted a judgment against Belize, allowing the Alliance to collect an award of 50 million US dollars, which was handed down by the London Court of International Arbitration. Prime Minister Dean Barrow has insisted that his government will not pay a single cent of that award, and so the Alliance has been trying to force Belize to pay. This is an old fight in court over the abusive Accommodation Agreement which the Musa Administration unlawfully signed for BTL, when the Ashcroft Alliance was the owner. The Barrow Government refused to honour it because it was a noose around the neck of Belizeans. The Alliance has been trying to force the government to pay for that agreement by way of arbitration award, ever since.

The government, with good reason, was concerned that the Ashcroft companies would attempt to go after the Central Bank’s reserve to satisfy this judgment debt. That was the reason for the Central Bank Immunity law; it criminalizes any attempt to attach those reserves as part of any judgment debt. The Ashcroft Company, Caribbean Holdings Investment Limited (CIHL), and their chief law firm, Courtenay Coye LLP, have since argued 2 claims against the law in an attempt to challenge its constitutionality. They were heard in a 2-day trial on last week Wednesday and Thursday, before Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin.

Eamon Courtenay, the Lead attorney for Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited, argued before the judge that this 50 million US dollar award is treated as property by the courts. The government must pay CIHL money, and that is property. They have asserted that the Central Bank Immunity Act unfairly deprives them of that property in its application, which is a violation of their rights. Courtenay has also made the submission that all parties in Belize must have a right of due process of law. That right of due process, from CIHL’s perspective, is to include their ability to pursue any legal matter in the courts of Belize and outside, and they assert that this law violates their rights.

Eamon Courtenay’s law firm, Courtenay Coye LLP, was represented by attorney Magali Marin-Young, and she submitted before the Chief Justice that this law unfairly criminalizes the actions of attorneys who are advising a person who are attempting to enforce arbitration awards.

In defense of the case, Acting Solicitor General Nigel Hawke has countered those positions, and he has made the point to the judge fundamentally, they are trying to enforce a judgment that the Caribbean Court of Justice has already ruled unenforceable.

That was the CCJ judgment of 2013 which condemned former Prime Minister Said Musa’s actions when he didn’t get prior parliamentary approval to sign the Accommodation Agreement. It is well known by Belizeans that the CCJ said, “Prime Ministerial governance, a paucity of checks and balances to restrain an overweening Executive, these are malignant tumours that eat away at democracy. No court can afford to encourage the spread of such cancer. In our judgment, implementation of the provisions of the Deed, without legislative approval and without the intention on the part of its makers to seek such approval, is indeed repugnant to the established legal order of Belize.”

The Court refused to enforce the award because it is contrary to Belize’s public policy.

So, the Chief Justice has now reserved judgment in these two claims to be announced at a later date. His judgment will determine the constitutionality of the Central Bank Immunity Act, and there is a possibility that he could strike out the law. If that happens, the Central Bank’s reserves will be exposed once again, and Eamon Courtenay hasn’t given a straight answer on whether or not his clients will go after them again.

The press asked him directly if his clients are committing to leave the Central Bank’s assets alone should this law be successfully challenged. His response was, “I think you are being humorous and so I am going to laugh and that’s my answer to that.”

Does Courtenay see it as a laughing matter that his clients, the Ashcroft Alliance, could wreck this country’s economy if they get at the Central Bank’s foreign reserves?

The Guardian


#525127 - 08/12/17 05:23 AM Re: The Alliance VS. GOB In Court, Part 999 [Re: Marty]  
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 54,557
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Ashcroft Alliance Changing Positions

2 months ago, we told you how Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin discharged the temporary injunction that the Government of Belize had gotten in the Belize Courts to block the Ashcroft Alliance from enforcing the approximately 50 million US dollars in the US Courts.
So, with that one barrier out of the way, the battle over enforcement of the mega judgement is continuing in the US Court.

The latest news now is that a Turks and Caicos company, Midway Investments Limited, went before a DC Federal judge on Wednesday to ask that it be substituted in enforcement case. If successful, it would replace for BCB Holdings Limited - now known as Caribbean Investments Holdings Limited - and Belize Bank Limited as the holder of the award against Belize.

Midway's attorneys attempted to convince the DC Federal Court judge that Belize's arguments on the case clearly demonstrate why they must be substituted as the petitioner in the place of Belize Bank and BCB Holdings.

In its reply in the case, Midway, said, "quote, "It is obvious from the record that the only way Midway, the real party in interest, can enforce this court's judgment in light of the GOB's continuing efforts to prevent enforcement of that judgment is to grant Midway's motion."

So, that's where it is; this company, Midway Investments, is seeking the court's recognition that that it is the real owner of the multimillion-dollar award against Belize - and not Belize Bank and Caribbean Holdings Investment Limited.

News sources out of the US say that Belize opposed this change because Midway will not be subject to the jurisdiction of the Belize Courts, since it is registered in Turks and Caicos. Midway, however, is reportedly a subsidiary of Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited.

Channel 7


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