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Belize Water Services' San Pedro Property Sold From Under It #552005
08/12/21 06:50 PM
08/12/21 06:50 PM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,041
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

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Marty  Offline OP

BWSL has found itself in a land depute in that island town: the property that houses its water treatment plant was basically sold out from under it - and the water company never even knew. And, now, it could affect the island's future water supply.

That's because BWS is in the process of digging two major saltwater wells for a new reverse osmosis water treatment plant on its property south of downtown San Pedro. These wells are critical for the adequate supply of water in the growing island's future.

But, the company has a major problem -the leased land, parcel 4034 - which it has held for decades, going back to last century - was sold in 2011 to an offshore, Anguilla-based IBC called Crocodile Lagoon Estate Company.

Now, BWSL has a valid 30 year lease in good standing dating back to 2002 - but no one told them anything about the sale of the same property. As often happens in the Lands Department a duplicate lease was created, and then title granted to the Crocodile Lagoon company in 2012. In a telling SNAFU, reports from the island suggest that Crocodile even got approval to subdivide the property before it applied for permission to subdivide.

BWSL didn't know or find out anything about all this until 2018 - but as it stands now, it is holding a lease for property to which another company holds the title. And, it's invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in that property!

And even though - reports from the island tell us that Crocodile paid a very modest $,5,568.00 dollars for the almost one and a half acres, the company has now hired a top law firm claiming damages amounting to many multiples of that purchase price.

In mid-June, the Courtenay Coye LLP wrote to the CEO of BWSL informing him that his company has caused, quote "irreparable damages to the properties, the entirety of which has been appraised at over 1.8 million US dollars," end quote.

And in a whiplash moment, - despite the fact that his client bought the property from under BWS - the attorney Gavin Courtenay writes amiably enough that his client wishes that BWS should, quote, "continue providing improved services to the residents of San Pedro our client wishes to seek an amicable resolution and would be prepared to transfer the properties to BWS or the government of Belize for its current market value." End quote.

This, Courtney tidily concludes would, quote, "cure the unlawful nature of the activities currently being carried out by BWS, and compensate our client for the substantial financial burdens it has borne as a result of these works."

We are told the matter has been sent to Cabinet for resolution - but there seems to be no decision taken yet.

Appearing on UNCUT two weeks ago, Minister of Natural Resources Cordel Hyde spoke generally about the racket around duplication of titles, executed deliberately during the last government as a dead raise "come-up":

Hon. Cordel Hyde - Deputy Prime Minister/Acting PM
"I believe that these guys had an epiphany in 2009. In 2009, I believe, was the first time they stumbled on this business of duplication for millions."

"Something went off in the heads of those men, and so, it's just duplications, duplications."

Jules Vasquez, host
"So duplications, you're saying, that type of fraud became a business."

Hon. Cordel Hyde
"[It] became a business and then, you have to imagine in the run-up to elections?"

"We spend a considerable amount of time daily fighting off those cases, trying to ensure that we save the country of Belize some money. People don't want alternative land. That's not what they got these lands for."

Jules Vasquez
"They want compensation."

Hon. Cordel Hyde
"They want compensation at market value. We've had to painstakingly go through those, to try to ensure that we don't expose the nation to millions of dollars in court costs."

So, where will this compensation case go? We'll keep following the story and have more for you tomorrow. S

an Pedro Area Rep On Island’s Uncertain Water Future

Last night, we told you about the land dispute that Belize Water Services Limited currently finds itself in.

The land its reverse osmosis plant is on in San Pedro was sold from under it to an offshore company based in Anguilla.

BWSL held a valid lease to that property, parcel 4043, which it is currently using to dig wells for a reverse osmosis water treatment plant - which is vital to the future supply of water on San Pedro. But, in what appears to be those irregular land ownership duplications, Crocodile Lagoon Estate Company now has full title to the same piece of land.

Reports say the Crocodile company paid a modest $,5,568.00 dollars for 1.42 acres of the park of land south of San Pedro Town, but now it has hired a top Belizean law firm to agitate for damages at the market value of the property. They say that it has been, quote, "appraised at over 1.8 million US dollars". End quote.

Our reports say that the entire fiasco - which jeopardises San Pedro's water future - has been brought to the attention of the Cabinet for a decision from the government about how best to proceed.

Today, we got an opportunity to speak with Andre Perez, the Area Representative. Here's what he had to say about the dubious duplication of ownership that gave birth to this dispute:

Hon. Andre Perez, Area Rep., Belize Rural South
"I was fully aware what was going on even before the elections. We were being made aware that these lands were being taken away. Of course, the history of that piece of property goes all the way back to 2012. And I know it all too well. With that land, weeks before the last elections, remember the Barrow administration didn't wait for the 5 years, they called snap elections on the 4th year, because they were riding this popular streak and they decide to call elections which they almost lost. But that is where we saw all the fiasco occurring in Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker with the lang grabbing. That specific one you are taking about is a direct result of the consequence of that election. That piece of land is a critical part of an important service that BWSL provides for that entire Ambergris Caye and pretty much it threatens to hold us at ransom with water shortage."

"Prior to that you had the previous companies at the time BWSL which was WASA then did not have the technology or the know how investments to make a reverse osmosis desalinating plant which actually Ambergris Caye became the first, so it was outsources to other people to do it and it eventually came back to what is BWSL. This is where we discovered this piece of property here and the legal implicalities are complicated and I don't want to engage in that, but we do know, me personally as the area representative of that Belize Rural South I am appalled and shocked and actually as I said before it makes your stomach turn to these things how is it that someone was able to get this piece of property that belongs to BWSL, getting it for just a pittance and yet they actually have the audacity to go to court and expect to ask for millions of dollars to give back land that rightfully belongs to the community of Ambergris Caye."

"We cannot put right now what the Ministry of Natural Resources is going to be doing, it is what BWSL has to rightfully fight for those and we have to engage in what is legally mandated. We know everybody have rights, even the people who are claiming to own it, they have rights, so they have to seek redress in court. It already reach to the table of the cabinet before and we are already engaging into legal avenues to pursue this matter. At this point in time there is not much more that the government can do, but wait for what happens at the courts. We as the leaders we have to go back to the drawing board in the event of whatever happens, if we are unable to get these lands back, we will have to go back to the drawing board and find other pieces of lands where we can do this expansion of the water which is essential. We will fix it."

One option that is open to BWSL is that they can commence a supreme court claim against the Government of Belize, via the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Attorney General's Ministry. But, in that case, the water company would basically be suing its majority shareholder.

Channel 7


Re: Belize Water Services' San Pedro Property Sold From Under It [Re: Marty] #552015
08/13/21 04:24 AM
08/13/21 04:24 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,041
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP
BWSL property on Ambergris Caye reportedly sold without their knowledge

In June of this year, the Courtenay Coye LLP law firm notified BWSL of irreparable damages made to the property, with the entirety appraised at over US$1.8 million. The piece of land was reportedly purchased for less than BZ$6,000. The letter from the law firm states that Crocodile Lagoon Estate wishes BWS to continue providing services to the residents of San Pedro and is seeking an amicable resolution. They are prepared to transfer the land to BWSL and/or the Government of Belize for its current market value. The law firm added this would cure the unlawful nature of the activities currently carried out by BWSL and compensate their client for the substantial financial burdens it has borne because of these works.

The matter has reached Cabinet, and on Wednesday, August 11th, Area Representative for Belize Rural South (Ambergris Caye, Caye Caulker), the Honourable Andre Perez, weighed in. He is shocked and expressed his concerns that a pittance was reportedly paid for the land, and now they are asking for millions of dollars in compensation. He considers this fiasco a land grab that took place during the previous administration. “That piece of land is critical, and part of an important service BWSL provides to Ambergris Caye, and it threatens to hold us at ransom with a water shortage,” said Perez. He could tell what the Department of Lands under the Ministry of Natural Resources will be dealing with this, as it is a legal matter between BWSL and Crocodile Lagoon Estate Company. “At this point, there is not much the government can do but wait for what happens at the court,” said Perez. He said that if BWSL loses the legal battle for some reason, the government will have to go back to the drawing board and find other properties where the expansion of the water plant can take place as it is an essential component of the island community. Perez is optimistic that government will be able to assist in solving the problem.

[Linked Image]

Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun

Re: Belize Water Services' San Pedro Property Sold From Under It [Re: Marty] #552148
08/19/21 04:40 AM
08/19/21 04:40 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,041
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Will GOB Find A Solution For San Pedro’s Water Land?

In a matter of pressing public concern where there is no allegation of nepotistic interest - Government has still been paralysed and unable to make a decision.

We're talking about San Pedro, where BWSL is in a land dispute: the property that houses its water treatment plant was basically sold out from under it. As we've reported, the leased land, parcel 4034 - which BWS has held for decades, and which houses its active water plant was sold in 2011 to an offshore, Anguilla-based IBC called Crocodile Lagoon Estate Company.

Now, BWS is currently digging two major saltwater wells on the property for a new reverse osmosis water treatment plant. These wells are critical for the adequate supply of water in the growing island's future.

What will Government do to correct this? Well, the answer to that depends on who really is "Crocodile Lagoon" - and we figured the PM would know:

Courtney Menzies:
"Really, who is Crocodile Lagoon and what is the government planning to do?"

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"Well I don't know, maybe you need to ask Gasper Vega who this person is. I don't know who these people are but I can tell you that I was just given an update yesterday that we're in negotiations with the people and it seems that they're prepared to give that up if we were to relocate them somewhere else in San Pedro."

Jules Vasquez:
"So you all wont have to compensate them with money?"

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"No, if we can successfully negotiate that, then yes we don't have to give them money."

Jules Vasquez:
"But are they even entitled to hold this land as an Anguilla based IBC are they even entitled to own property in Belize, it's not a resident company or a CARICOM company."

Hon. John Briceno, Prime Minister
"Yes you can own land as an IBC, I think you should not buy land from the government which goes the same with the boledo now that we have an offshore company owning about 60% of that company. But we will find out who really are the owners of the boledo soon."

Channel 7


Re: Belize Water Services' San Pedro Property Sold From Under It [Re: Marty] #552894
09/24/21 04:20 AM
09/24/21 04:20 AM
Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 81,041
oregon, spr
Marty Offline OP

.
Marty  Offline OP

Phantom Owners For BWS Lands

We told you last month how the water company's San Pedro property was sold out from under it.

The company now finds itself in a land fight with an Anguilla-based IBC called Crocodile Lagoon Estate Company.

The property, parcel 4034, which it has held for decades was sold in 2011 to Crocodile Lagoon. The company has a 30-year lease, but somehow, this off-shore company ended up with a duplicate lease, and in 2012, it ended up with the title to the property to which BWS first had the rights.

BWS didn't know anything about this until 2018, and now, it is holding a lease for a property to which another company holds the title. And, the water company has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars on that property, which is important to the future of San Pedro's water security.

Last night, Ferguson shared a few more details on that case, and he also revealed how the water company finds itself in a similar fight for its land in Belmopan:

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Initially BWS had a lease of 30 years on the entire property. Low and behold unknowing to them that there was survey done and then some parcels were siphoned off to this person and then to Crocodile Estates. BWS lawyer approach us and figure what is the best way forward, because in normal circumstances anybody who have a title supersedes a lease and so BWS as a company that provides water is saying they need to put some additional wells on this property and then they realize that there were additional owners. So I believe the only way that can be solved is going through the courts of Belize."

Jules Vasquez
"Let's move behind this Crocodile Lagoon Estates as its name. Man, there has to be somebody on the ground here in Belize. That's a foreign IBC, that's just to hide somebody name. You all have to know who it is, who is Crocodile?"

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"I will not call any name. I understand it connected to the former area representative of Belize Rural South. A name was given, I can't recall the name, because I didn't come prepared for that. If I had the name, I would have given it to you. But it's some relations to that person."

Jules Vasquez
"So they have a title. Negotiations are now underway to get back the land, If I am right. How close are you all to recovering the land, because San Pedro water future depends on deep wells."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"I guess as I said it was done intentionally and so now, they want BWS to pay a significant amount of money."

Jules Vasquez
"Will BWS do that?"

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Either that or they go through the courts of Belize and the court will determine what will be the end results. Another thing, In Belmopan I was made to understand that the land that BWS has the sewer system on was also siphoned off."

Jules Vasquez
"It was sold from under them. To who?"

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"I don't have the name on top of my head, but it was siphoned off from them."

Jules Vasquez
"Was it to a UDP related political interest?"

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Not directly to a UDP, but somebody related."

Jules Vasquez
"Related to a UDP big fish? Theoretically with the same plan, that I have to get compensation."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"They go back to BWS and say I now own this land, because you have to blame BWS to a certain extent. They should have secured these properties."

Jules Vasquez
"They should have brought those properties."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"And so I hope that they get the sense and now in the future they are going to make sure that they secure all their properties across the country of Belize."

And turning now to Ferguson's other Ministerial portfolio, Jules asked him to discuss his efforts to reform the country's public transportation system. He says that come next year, all those old school buses converted into commuter buses will have to be taken off the country's highways:

Jules Vasquez
"You have to be thinking about how the bus system can be modernized."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"It will be. As a matter of fact, I will make sure when I go back to office, I will tell my CEO to make sure he puts out an announcement that come June 2022 we don't want any more school busses on the main highways."

Jules Vasquez
"That will be significant, sir. Are you sure you are prepared for that, because the push back will be great. Operators will say the cost of diesel, cost of tires."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"And to be honest there are too many small operators on our highways, so you can't really regulate, because too many small operators, so they either have to form some kind of association like BBOC that when you are telling you are talking for that group. On the western road you have maybe 2-3 busses, likewise on the southern. When you look at the northern there are tremendous number of operators. Its confusion."

Jules Vasquez
"You're saying some of those small operators, you have to slow down."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"They will have to form some type of cooperative, because you can't work as it is."

Jules Vasquez
"You have people who have bus right now like my good friend, the bus that Mr. Ashcroft rode when his vehicle broke down - he said Miss Maria buss."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Maria from Ladyville?"

Jules Vasquez
"Maria Bus service - she says they took away all my run, because I am perceived as Edmund supporter. I said shux that's the bus that Mr. Ashcroft ride in."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Did you ask her to show you any certificate for the busses?"

Jules Vasquez
"I didn't get into the details. I just know she doesn't have any run, the busses are park."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"She didn't have any bus. So, people after a while start to get permits and come and sell you the run. That is contrary to the ministry's regulations."

Jules Vasquez
"Even that bus Mr. Ashcroft was on that said Maria Bus."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Since I came into the ministry Maria has no bus."

Jules Vasquez
"You're saying the entire landscape of the bus industry has to change, we have to move away from all this. 2022, you heard it here first - all those school bus has to come off the road."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"That announcement should have come out already, go to cabinet and make the announcement. I am having a meeting with ADO bus on the 30th September to figure how we can come into some kind of collusion with them, because I understand that 4 years they cannot use the same bus, so if we can figure how we can get those busses to Belize, it will be an upgrade to what we have right now."

We also pressed him on persistent reports that he has started canceling the road service permits for UDP bus operators.

Are the Minister and his administrative team playing politics within the Transport industry? That's what Jules asked, and here's how he responded:

Jules Vasquez
"What I hear is that you play some hard politics in your ministry, in that ministry of transport that you reward your friends and you punish your enemies. I know a lot of people have lost their runs."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"Jules, I do not micromanage as I told you. I put a transport in place that is functional."

Jules Vasquez
"But I hear you sitting on the transport board."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"My CEO sitting as the CEO."

Jules Vasquez
"Is that legit?"

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"He is the person who runs the ministry. He does not dictate to them."

Jules Vasquez
"Under your leadership the bus runs for UDPs have been cancelled. That's victimization, sir."

Hon. Rodwell Ferguson
"You could call it what you want, Jules. Any minister would have done the same and I don't manipulate the board, I understand where you are coming from, but life is real."

Jules Vasquez
"Your government was elected to do better than the UDP. That's how the UDP operated, but what you're telling me, life is real, we have to operate like that as well."

Channel 7



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