Longstanding Caribbean (LON:CIHL) shareholders will know of the debt due by the Government of Belize that was shunted off to Midway Investments Limited. This debt remains unpaid and is a serious barrier to the GoB raising money internationally. I now show a snippet picked up over the weekend. It will not get the GoB anywhere – just further large bills from lawyers.
Belize Bank to Appeal CJ’s Ruling on UHS Debt
February 7 2020
Attorney for the Belize Bank Limited, Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay this evening filed an application for leave to appeal a ruling made last month by Chief Justice Kenneth Benjamin in favour of the Government of Belize on a U.H.S. debt that has now ballooned to over a hundred million dollars with interest included.
It all dates back to a debt that originated from 2004 and has gone before a number of processes.
But this application stems from a vote, which the government took in February 2019; that it would not use public monies to pay the growing debt, a decision which the CJ upheld in his January tenth ruling.
When News Five last spoke to Attorney General Michael Peyrefitte on the matter, he said in essence that the Ministry of Finance is not in breach of any law or duty to pay the monies owed because the parliament has not voted for that, hence the Minister of Finance cannot be compelled to pay.
The matter has gone through many legal battles prior to this, and at one point, the London Court of International Arbitration had ruled that the Belize Bank is entitled to its money.
The Belize Chamber of Commerce had also at one time implored the government to follow the rule of law and to pay the debt.
There are c. 400,000 Belizeans. At an average national debt per person of $9,000 the total comes to $3.6bn. This dwarfs the GoB’s debt to Midway and, since it will soon require to be augmented, there seems to me to be a very fair chance that Midway will will pay off. Patience will be required.
Watchstone (LON:WTG) offered a pre-close update yesterday. There is now 195p per share cash with further disposals to come. So my target remains at 225p.
The putative litigation for WTG to pay damages to those who were misled by Rob Terry seems to be coming along slowly.
There is to be an interim payout of 110p at least by the end of June 2020.