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Salazar: FTC Got It Wrong

Salazar: FTC Got It Wrong
July 12
13:03 2019

Friday, July 12th. 2019 –

Senator Aldo Salazar, following the Prime Minister’s press conference regarding the Sanctuary Bay real estate scam, spoke with the Reporter on Thursday and also denied having any direct involvement with or knowledge of the Sanctuary Bay scam though he acknowledged providing services to key principals of the development. Salazar said bluntly that the FTC’s facts were inaccurate and denied facilitating fraud of any kind.

“Facilitate the fraud, what does that mean? If what the intent is, that there was knowledge of the fraud and that I did it with knowledge to perpetrate that…that is not correct. There is no documentation or communication in which I had any discussion with [Pukke] or anyone that there was anything abnormal with this development,” he said. “Absolutely not!” he responded when we asked him point blank whether or not he profited or benefited in any way from the proceeds of fraud.

According to Salazar, he never met or had any correspondence with Andris Pukke, the American national who allegedly orchestrated and carried out the scam from prison in the US. Salazar, responding to claims that he visited Pukke’s California telemarketing headquarters where Atlantic International Bank Limited conducted training sessions for Sanctuary Bay’s telemarketers to pitch AIBL’s services, confirmed that he did visit the California office but said he was not aware of Pukke’s existence or his role. According to Salazar, the purpose for his visit was totally unrelated to the Sanctuary Bay project.

He said he visited the office in his capacity as AIBL’s attorney and met with Luke Chadwick, one of the defendants named in the FTC’s Sanctuary investigation, but was not aware of who Pukke was. He also dismissed a claim that Chadwick had told him about Pukke and divulged that Pukke was in control on the entire operation. “Chadwick and I have never had any conversation about Pukke because I don’t know the man, I don’t know the person,” Salazar stated.

The FTC had also made light of the fact that Salazar had sent out numerous foreclosure letters on behalf of one of the entities controlled by Pukke in commission of the scam.

According to court documents, the FTC has sought to establish that with the totality of evidence gathered knowledge was imputed across entities, including AIBL and firms co-owned by the bank’s Chief Executive Officer, Ricardo Pelayo and Salazar. “…Mr. Pelayo…he understood that the reason that they…appeared on these tours 126 times is because having a bank representative there made it likely for SBE to be able to sell lots. That’s substantial assistance. There simply is no doubt about the fact that that is something that substantially assisted the SBE enterprise,” previous FTC court documents said.

Elsewhere in the FTC documents it referenced foreclosure letters sent out to SBE lot owners from one of Salazar’s firms, Professional Advisory Services Limited. “It’s not just the fact that these letters are coming out from an entity that’s associated with Mr. Pelayo. You have the fact that Mr. Pelayo’s accounting firm, also with Mr. Salazar, is operating or has a relationship with the Sanctuary Belize Homeowners Association,” the documents had noted.

“I did write some demand letters as an attorney, as a professional in discharge of my professional duties, however, it is not true to suggest that I knew Pukke controlled that entity [Sittee River Wildlife Reserve] at that time,” Salazar told us, adding that Pukke’s name never came up. Furthermore, he added, even if he did know about Pukke, at the time there was no widespread reports or knowledge that there was anything wrong at the development. “The error is the suggestion that it was widely known in Belize that this thing was a fraud. That is inaccurate because a lot of upstanding Belizeans rendered services to this development. I am not the only lawyer who did work for Sanctuary Bay,” he said.

Salazar said he assumed his association with politics played a role in his involvement being magnified as much as it has been, however, Salazar shares a partnership in two businesses with former AIBL CEO, Pelayo, who the FTC claims also had substantial knowledge that Sanctuary Belize was indeed carrying out a fraudulent operation.

The FTC had argued in previous court documents that, “…without institutions like Atlantic International Bank Limited providing the assistance that they provide, the situation wouldn’t be what it is.” There had also been reports that Salazar had been stopped and questioned in the US in relation to the matter on his way back from a diplomatic visit to Taiwan.

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