General

Belize dodges $90 million bullet

By Benjamin Flowers
Staff Reporter

The Supreme Court of Belize spared the country’s economy a US $90 million loss when it ruled in favor of the Government of Belize for nationalizing the International Merchant Marine Registry (IMMARBE) and the International Business Companies Registry (ICB).

Justice Michele Arana ruled that the Belize International Services Limited did not have valid contractual ownership of the registries.Therefore, it could not claim compensation for a breach of contract.

After the decision, the government made a statement, welcoming the victory and criticized the People’s United Party (PUP) for selling the registries off in the first place.
“As this current administration has always maintained, it is politically, morally and legally repugnant for the PUP to have handed over control of Belizean assets and revenue to the Ashcroft enterprise,” GOB said.

Attorney Denys Barrow, said that the greatest victory in the case, is that Belizean tax dollars will not have to be used to pay the compensation.
In 2013, GOB nationalized the registries to avoid a European Union ban on Belizean fisheries. BISL attorney Eamon Courtenay said that GOB violated his client’s constitutional rights by forcibly taking the registries.

While the government is spared the $90 million for the registries, there are still three other arbitrations pending against the government of Belize in United States courts.
According to Financial Secretary Joseph Waight, should GOB lose those cases, the government would sustain a combined loss of $100 million.

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