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Another multi-million dollar court loss for GOB

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

Adding to its numerous consecutive losses in United States courts, the government of Belize lost another case this week at the US Supreme Court level, which will cost Belize some US $18.5 million.
The US Supreme Court ruled on Monday that it will not review the decision of a lower court to enforce an arbitration award won by Belize Bank International in the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).

The effect of the ruling is that the Belize Bank can now have the judgment enforced without any kind of legal opposition by Belize.
The case dates back to 2004 when the People’s United Party guaranteed a debt owed to the Belize Bank by Universal Health Services (UHS) Company. UHS eventually couldn’t pay its debt and relied on GOB, which reached a settlement agreement for $33 million in 2007. When the United Democratic Party came into power in 2008, it refused to honor the agreement, which triggered the arbitration at the LCIA.

GOB lost the case at the LCIA, then fought the arbitration award in the federal district court in Washington and lost again. GOB made an appeal to the D.C. Circuit court; however the court supported the Federal Court’s judgment. The circuit court later denied Belize’s attempt to have the case reheard.

GOB had made a final attempt at the Supreme Court level, arguing that Belize (formerly British Honduras) was a colony of the United Kingdom and not an independent nation when the New York Convention was ratified, and was therefore not bound by the convention when it became an independent nation, because Belize never ratified the treaty.
The Court did not accept that argument and gave no reason as to why.

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