It's sort of a political tradition: the last "bombshell" pre-election press conference, staged by a political party looking for a "Hail Mary", or maybe just a buzzer beater to put them over the top and clinch the election.

In August of 1998 was our first experience with such an event - when, one week before the general election, then police minister Dean Barrow held a press conference to let the public know that Interpol in Panama had inquired about Ralph Fonseca's supposed involvement in money laundering. The drama was high, but the effect at the polls was nil - PUP won by a huge margin.

And then in 2003, the UDP - then in opposition - swung for the fences with a supposed scholarship scandal involving Education Minister Cordel Hyde. It was two weeks before the general election, and, again, the effect was nil: the PUP won easily, and Cordel Hyde has never lost - never even come close.

Fast forward to 2020, and the opposition PUP took its turn today with a press conference - supposedly to reveal a steaming pile of UDP corruption.

They took aim principally at the Prime Minister's son, Anwar Barrow - as the silent shareholder in Brad's Boledo; and the UDP's favourite builders, the Arguelles brothers and their company, International Environments - beneficiary of lucrative public contracts.

Big names and very big figures, but the only problem is, these issues have been aired out before in the House of Representatives.

But, the PUP went for it hard, like a running back at "fourth and one"….Did they get the touchdown to prove systemic UDP corruption? You decide - here's the evidence:

John Briceno - Leader, PUP
"A search at the company's registry revealed that Brads Gaming is owned by Goodlee Limited, with 60% ownership, and Kim Y Chee, Mr. Brads, the other 40%. Kim Y Chee is the well-known owner of Brads Store, at Farmer's Market, Belize City. A company search revealed that Brads has 4 directors: Kim Y Chee, Goodlee Ltd., Sheffield Ltd., and Macroy Ltd. We checked and found out that Goodlee, Sheffield, and Macroy, are not Belizean companies. They are off-shore companies registered in Dominica. This means their ownership is secret, and not available to the public. The owner of Goodlee, which is the majority shareholder of Brads Gaming Company is a secret."

"We do not believe for a second that the government did not know who owns Goodlee. Clearly, the Government must have known who it was dealing with. The question is why the cover-up? Why the secrecy? The PUP has done some investigating. Details are starting to be uncovered. All that is publicly known is that Goodlee is a company formed in Saint Lucia, on December 3rd, 2009."

"Reliable information shows significant transfers of $800,000 from Goodlee to Quickstop in 2018. Reliable sources tell us that significant transfers, $417,000, from Goodlee to Creative content were made in 2019. Credible information shows significant transfers, $1, 150,000 from Goodlee to Prudential Management in 2020."

"Quickstop, Creative Content, and Prudential Management are all connected to, if not owned by, Gregory Anwar Barrow, the son of the Prime Minister."

"Exactly 2 weeks after the Prime Minister said he did not know the company, Our source in St. Lucia informed us that on October 9th, 2020 - that is last month - Goodlee presented articles of dissolution to the registrar, to be to dissolve the company."

Eamon Courtenay, SC - Legal Advisor, PUP
"Section 19, subsection 5 of the Finance and Audit Reform Act states, and I quote, any procurement or sale, contract of or above 5 million dollars shall be subject to the open tendering procedure, end quote. Because the value of the Brads contract was in excess of 50 million dollars per year, it must have been offered by way of open tender."

"As Minister of Finance, Prime Minister Barrow had a legal duty to disclose Brad's contract within 30 days of its execution. Not only that, he was legally required to disclose to the House of Representatives and to the Senate related documents, sufficient to enable Parliament to determine whether the open tender procedure was complied with. In violation of the Finance and Audit Reform Act, and in breach of his fiduciary duty, the Prime Minister of Belize, the Hon. Dean Barrow did not submit these required documents to the House or to the Senate, in compliance with the law."

"Violations of the Finance and Audit Reform Act is a criminal offense."

This evening, we contacted Anwar Barrow via telephone for a response.

He told us, quote, "To me, it's clear from the record that a few people in the PUP have a political vendetta against me." End quote.

He also pointed out that the PUP has already been ordered to pay him substantial damages for past instances of libel and defamation.

As for Prime Minister Dean Barrow, and the allegation that he didn't do his duty of disclosure to the House. Her responded, quote,

"First off, it was Minister Panton that laid the Brads contract on the table. Since it was her ministry that spearheaded the advertising, tendering and selection process… Second, this particular contract was subject to the open tendering procedure (which) was in fact used, and certified by the Contractor-General-before execution of the contract-as having been properly applied."

End quote. And, on the subject of laying before the house with documents, the Prime Minister points to the standing orders which say that contracts over five million dollars are laid before the house.

So, the Prime Minster says, quote, "Thus, in meeting that singular purpose for laying, there is no requirement for the Minister to accompany the laying with any particular documents."

Channel 7


Daniel Arguelles Defends Contracts

Daniel Arguelles defended the contracts saying the P.U.P. has twisted the facts, since some of the huge contracts were joint ventures for which I.E. was responsible for designs services. Arguelles rejected the notion that the contracts were bloated, saying their services are world class. 

Daniel Arguelles, International Environments

“I think after hearing him list of the projects first thing that came to my mind is it is a little bit skewed or inaccurate. Some contracts are not fully IE. It is joint venture contracts, two of the bigger ones are joint venture so it is not all I.E. and others one in particular the Placencia Pier and Promenade, we are just designers. We supervised that contract. Maheia United is the one who executed the construction of that contract. A little bit concerning when the facts aren’t accurate.”

Hipolito Novelo

“They are saying fifteen contracts valued over one hundred and three million dollars. So you are saying that is not true, that is not accurate?”

Daniel Arguelles

“Not entirely I mean some of the contracts are solely IE and I encourage anyone to go on our website. We have our portfolio online and they can see the description of all of these contracts and they are both public and private   contracts. So the inaccuracy of that lump sum figure that he has in the end is just not correct.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Okay so he lists out these contracts and the value of these contracts for exampled the Lake Independence Building I believe at nineteen point two million dollars. Is that accurate?”

Daniel Arguelles

“I don’t know the exact number but fairly accurate. That one yes but at the same time that is a joint venture contract.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The Saca Chipas Pier in San Pedro at six million dollars?”

Daniel Arguelles

“That is a design contract. That was executed by another contractor.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The Marion Jones Sports Complex Phase two – two point five million.”

Daniel Arguelles

“That was a long time ago, but really that was a smaller part of that entre project. That was just a track and field that we had built at the time.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Belize City four point pedestrian walkway – six million dollars.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes we contracted that.”

Hipolito Novelo

“House of Culture – three point eight million.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes.  That is a renovation project.”

Hipolito Novelo

“City Hall at three point six million dollars.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The San Pedro Football Field, two hundred and sixty three thousand dollars.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Does are design services.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Punta Gorda Sport Complex, three point one million.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The Belmopan Roof Project, one point one.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes those are several canopies around that area.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The ITVET building here in Freetown, two million.”

Daniel Arguelles

“That was a long time ago, yes.”

Hipolito Novelo

“Cayo Welcome Center three million.”

Daniel Arguelles

“That was done by another contractor. We were I think a small portion of a joint venture, I think.”

Hipolito Novelo

“They are saying that I.E. got a lot of bloated contracts from the government.”

Daniel Arguelles

“It is not bloated at all. It is projects that they are getting first world standard construction and designs so it is not the ordinary run a mill Belize standard type projects.”

Hipolito Novelo

“I was going over the company’s website, going over the list of project I see a lot of them are from government. Would you say that majority of works that the company does is for the government of Belize?”

Daniel Arguelles

“Certainly not.”

Hipolito Novelo

“What percentage would you say? Because most of the pictures are from works you done for the government.”

Daniel Arguelles

“Yes but I also have project for private client, very big clients. We did the US Embassy. We are working on a Marriott Hotel right now and these projects are bigger than the price for anything we have done for the government.”

Hipolito Novelo

“The P.U.P. is comparing yourself and your brother to “the infamous Imer Hernandez”. They are saying or suggesting that what Imer was for the government in terms of road contracts that you, your brother and your company are to the government when it comes to building contracts. How do you respond to that?”

Daniel Arguelles

“I don’t know Imer Hernandez. All I do is bid on some projects it is the industry that we are in designing and building that is how we make money. I am not going to do any other project and I don’t need to look into what somebody else is doing to compare themselves to me so I can’t speak to that.”

Channel 5