Archive for June, 2009

Belize Bank’s appeal rejected

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

A ruling by Belize’s Chief Justice Abdulai Conteh, in which the it was found that a Financial Appeal Board headed by Supreme Court judge Samuel Awich had been properly appointed and not biased has been upheld by the Court of Appeal has upheld.

Belize Bank had filed an application to the Financial Appeal Board in order to appeal a Central Bank directive regarding the return of USD 10 million to the Government of Belize. The money, which is a grant from the Venezuelan government, was used by the former Musa government to help pay off a loan owed to the bank by Universal Health Services. It was part of a USD 20 million grant given to the people and government by the government of the Venezuela that was discussed previously.

On June 5, 2009, the Court of Appeal agreed with the Chief Justice’s ruling. It dismissed the appeal.

Moneygram scam investigated in Belize

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

A number of individuals closely associated to the ruling party in Belize government are tracing the paper trail into the ongoing investigation of a multi-million dollar money laundering network through Moneygram in Belize.

The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is heading the investigation. It has refused to follow expert advice to probe further into the operation at Fultec Systems in Belize City ( Fultec Systems’ sister company, Omni Network, was once Moneygram’s master agent).

Recently, the FIU revealed that hundreds of drivers license holders’ personal information had been used to carry out money transfers by those who are involved in money laundering. The money launderers hacked into the Belize City Council’s Traffic Department computer database and stole driver license holders’ personal information. After that hundreds of fake money transfers were made using Moneygram.

Fultec System has confirmed in a press release that it has worked on the Traffic Department computer database and set up the database system for the department.

This scam is alleged to have taken place between October 2007 and 2008.

Belize signs Trade Cooperation Agreement with Mexico

Monday, June 15th, 2009

Belize and Mexico have signed a Memorandum of Understanding that is focused on Cooperation and Trade. This agreement is aimed to encourage the healthy flow of goods between the two countries.

The agreement was officially signed on June 5, 2009 by the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries of Belize, from Belize’s side, and by the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) of Mexico, from Mexico’s side. On behalf of the government of Belize, the agreement was signed by Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Mr Rene Montero. Coordinator of Foreign Affairs (SAGARPA) Victor Villalobos signed the document on behalf of the government of Mexico. Also, a short ceremony was hold at Tiger Run Farm Limited, on the Western Highway.

The representatives of the two countries said that the signing is an important historic event as it will boost the export of beef and the exchange of other value-added products between Belize and Mexico. Also, it should enhance the bilateral relationship by increased cooperation in various other spheres of mutual interest.

Despite crisis, banks achieved 1st quarter profits

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

On June 8, the Central Bank of Belize published information indicating that 4 of the 5 commercial banks operating in this offshore jurisdiction have turned a profit for the 1st quarter of 2009, despite the economic downturn in leading sectors like tourism, and wholesale and retail trade.

According to the recent report by the Statistical Institute of Belize (SIB), the economy of Belize had contracted by 2.2% in real terms if to compare with the same period of 2008. Private business and financial services was the sector to perform the best. It should be noted that this sector has grown by 10.4 %, which is its best performance since 2003.

The only bank in Belize that did not end the 1st quarter with profit was the Alliance Bank. It showed a 0.5-million $ loss for January to March 2009. Alliance Bank reported interest income of $3.7 million for the period.

The highest interest income for the quarter was collected by the Belize Bank – it was approximately $18.9 million, while Scotia Bank earned a reported interest income of $17.6 million. Atlantic Bank reported $11.8 million in interest income, and, as to First Caribbean International, it collected $6.8 million.

It is also worth noting that the Belize Bank was the only one of the 5 to report NIL for business tax payments for the 1st quarter of 2009. Other banks recorded business tax expenses that range from $267 000 (Alliance Bank) to $2 million (Scotia Bank).