After a number of fake investors slipped through the net, the Government of Belize says it is working to strengthen the review process for those who seek to establish businesses in the Jewel. That was the response from Minister of State for Economic Development, Tracy Taegar-Panton, during an interview with News Five at BELTRAIDE’s annual entrepreneurship conference. According to Panton, since 2015, G.O.B. has emboldened the due diligence process for international investors. Even so, in 2017, the multimillion-dollar Puerto Azul project turned out to be a Ponzi scheme. And now, again in 2018, the largest real estate fraud was uncovered by the Federal Trade Commission tainting Belize’s image in respect of investors. Panton explains.

Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State, Economic Development

“There is actually a subcommittee of cabinet that looks at these proposals; the due diligence process is lot more tougher; it takes a longer time, but we think it is important that we do that kind of examination to ensure that this kind of event does not happen. There is also responsibility, though, of people who are investing in the country in these kinds of schemes, to make sure they check these people out. We go through a far more thorough vetting process than we have ever done before because of some of the incidents we have seen recently.

Belize’s Economy Benefited from Sanctuary Bay Scam

Millions of dollars were scammed from persons who invested heavily in securing a prime parcel of land in Sanctuary Bay, by a convict carrying out the operation from behind bars in a U.S. prison. Unsuspecting investors were shown pictures of various developments purportedly occurring within the gated community in southern Belize. So is it a case of G.O.B. enjoying an influx of money that they turned a blind eye to the investor?

Tracy Taegar-Panton, Minister of State, Economic Development

“Not all investors come through the official process. Not all investors come to BELTRAIDE for vetting or to the FIU for vetting those are the systems that we are trying to strengthen as we speak. And in the initial years of Sanctuary Bay, as I understand it, there was money moving in the economy, things seem to be happening, so there were no red flags so to speak to create what we see now. But I can assure you that we will do everything that we humanly can to ensure that these investors are properly screened so that we can avoid this kind of situation in the future.”

Channel 5