Lawsuit Against Central Bank and G.O.B. by Choice Bank is Dismissed
Back in August of last year, we told you how Choice Bank Limited and its shareholders sued the Government of Belize. That's after Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Dean Barrow revoked their license to conduct offshore banking in Belize. The Bank was asserting that the Government did this prematurely, and that it caused them to lose investments.
They were seeking monetary damages against the Government in compensation, but today, very surprisingly, they did a complete 180 and withdrew their claim against the Government, which now ends their dispute with the government.
They had sued the Prime Minister, the Central Bank, and the Attorney General, seeking damages in compensation for this alleged premature decision, and that case started to proceed before Justice Courtney Abel. The court later ordered an independent valuation of the bank by a third party, which both sides agreed upon. That assessment was done to determine the bank's true financial picture on the day that the license was revoked. After the independent valuation was done, the report indicated that in fact, the bank was in trouble of tanking, and that basically, the Government took the best course of action.
Well, after carefully considering that report, the shareholders of the Bank decided that they no longer wanted to proceed with their case, and so, both sides signed a consent order before Justice Abel that the lawsuit was being dismissed.
It's an unusual but very positive outcome for the Government, and after today's hearing, we spoke with Joy Grant, the Central Bank Governor, when she exited court. Here's what she had to say:
Joy Grant - Governor, Central Bank of Belize
"The claim really was to say that the Central Bank acted unlawfully, and not following the act. We are very pleased today that they withdrew the case because we have always acted in the best interest of depositors, and we continue to do so. So, it's very good that this has come to this end."
"The complaint was that in revoking the license, we did not operated under the the act and the law. We've always held that we have, and that we will continue to do so."
We approached Eamon Courtenay, the attorney representing Choice Bank for comment, but he declined.
A late evening press release from the Central Bank says, quote, "Today, Choice Bank Limited and Choice Group Holdings... signed a Consent Order to dismiss a claim brought before the Supreme Court against the Minister of Finance, Attorney General, and the Central Bank of Belize... which sought remedies relating to vindicatory damages and declarations that the Defendants acted in breach of their statutory duties and acted for ulterior or improper purposes. The Central Bank of Belize wishes to reemphasize that it acted and continues to act in the best interest of the customers and depositors of Choice Bank Limited, as well as the public's interest, and in accordance with the International Banking Act."