By Aaron Humes
BELIZE CITY, Mon.May 5th, 2014
Following a successful application in the Supreme Court, more than a million dollars in assets belonging to the surviving relatives of the late Michael Coye remain under lock and key.
Earlier on Monday, Supreme Court Justice Shona Griffith had lifted the freezing order against nearly $6 million in financial assets belonging to members of the family, left to them by Mr. Coye.
The family – parents Michael (deceased) and Marlene; daughter Melonie and son Jude; and associates James Gerou, Atlee Matute and Dietrich Kingston, as well as the company Money Exchange International Limited were exonerated after two trials and two appeals, the latest coming in March of this year.The Coye’s ran the money exchange until the start of investigations by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) into allegations of money laundering
The FIU has chosen not to appeal the decision, but there are still some legal hurdles for the family to clear.
The Income Tax Department, which has claimed approximately half the estate for income taxes, had asked for a further freezing to assess new claims but Justice Griffith declined the application as out of time.
FIU Special Counsel on the money laundering case, Tricia Pitts-Anderson, confirmed that the accounts are minus monies signed over by the FIU to Income Tax. She also clarified that the family was not as destitute as suggested in media interviews with Arthur Saldivar last week, having received a $50,000 allowance every four months.
The other issue is a private claim filed by a company known as Internet Experts, S.A., of Panama, which was a business partner of the Coye family and is claiming an unspecified amount. Also doing business as Instadollar, this company, represented by Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman, applied for an ex parte injunction to stop the family from regaining control of the money after failing to sway Judge Griffith during the morning proceedings.
The injunction is in place for at least two more weeks, until a hearing scheduled for May 19, 2014.
The Court of Appeal had ordered the return of the $1.557 million found at the family’s Johnson Street home in December of 2007 within 60 days.
That money is identified by special markers which cannot be tampered with. But this too is not accessible to the family as a result of the injunction.
The money, family attorney Richard “Dickie” Bradley said, came from the sale of a gas station business and lands owned by Michael Coye.
For his own reasons, Bradley said, Coye chose not to keep all of his monies in the bank.
But neither the $1.557 million nor the bank account money were found to be proceeds of crime facilitating money laundering, as charged by the FIU.