Central Bank orders Belize Bank to return US$10 Million

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 18, No. 12            March 20, 2008

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A press release issued on March 17th, 2008 by the Central Bank of Belize states that it has formally written to the Belize Bank Limited with two very important directives. In essence it is asking the Michael Ashcroft banking institution to return monies belonging to the people of Belize.

    The Central Bank was explicitly clear when it came to the directives issued. The first directive is asking the Belize Bank to “forthwith return to the Government of Belize the sum of US$10 million sent by Bandes – Fideicomisos de Venezuela on December 28th, 2007 for disbursement to the Government of Belize for construction and repair of houses.” The second directive asks the Belize Bank Limited to provide full information and documentation regarding the sum of US$10 million received by Belize Bank Limited from the Government of Taiwan.

    The release ended by stating that if the bank fails to comply with a Central Bank directive, it is, “a criminal offence, apart from civil and other liabilities and sanctions which may be incurred or imposed.” In the weeks leading up to the 2008 General Elections, the Government of Belize announced that it had received a US$10 million grant from President Hugo Chavez’s Bolivarian Government of Venezuela. According to the then People’s United Party (PUP) Government, nine of the alleged US$10 million was to be used for home improvement grants and loans while the remaining US $1 million was to be used to build an indoor sports complex at the Marion Jones Sporting Complex.

    But, no later did the Government change mantle in a massive defeat for the PUP, than the authorities in Venezuela wrote to the Government of Belize for a detailed break down as to how the grant money was used. However, it was a shock to realize that the PUP administration did not get US $10 million but US$20 million dollars, which were all spent before they went out of office. That letter of clarification took both the Belizean people and the newly elected Barrow Administration by shock and disbelief since it was announced that the past Musa administration had only received US$10 million.

    After much inquires and investigations, the government of Belize made revelation that indeed it was US$20 million dollars. After sending an appointed delegate of investigators to Venezuela to dig into the missing addition US$10 million dollars from Venezuela, lo and behold, information revealed that that beside the missing US$10 million dollars from Venezuela, the PUP Government also shafted the Belizean public of another US$10 million. The additional US$10 million came in the form of another grant, this one, though from the Government of the Republic of Taiwan. The newly elected UDP administration was being asked to account for US$30 million.

    Electronic paper trails and directives have revealed that the monies ended into the Belize Bank Limited coffers used to cover the Universal Health Services indebtedness. The wiring instructions from the Venezuelan government clearly stated that the grant was awarded so that the PUP administration “disburse only to the Government of Belize (for) construction and repair of houses,” but based on the instructions of the Musa administration passed on by then Foreign Affairs Chief Executive Officer Amalia Mai, the Belize Bank instead used the money to partially pay off Universal’s indebtedness.

    Only the future holds many answers, and only time will tell how the Venezuelan/Taiwanese money-Belize Bank-UH

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