Telemedia and GOB “attacked” by Prosser, PSU and BNTU

Since Belize Telecommunications Limited was bought back by the Government of Belize in 2004, the company has been involved in numerous litigations – the latest one lodged by American Jeffrey Prosser. Prosser is seeking Supreme Court redress in challenging the Vesting Act passed by Parliament in May 2007.

Under the Vesting Act, Belize Telecommunications Limited became Belize Telemedia Limited. The sale of all the shares by Prosser’s Caribbean banker, he was completely deposed of any ownership in BTL.

Although Prosser has lodged his constitutional claim against the Government of Belize, the new BTL – Belize Telemedia Limited – has emerged front and center to defend the case. On September 25, 2007, former ruling party Senator Eamon Courtenay, Telemedia’s attorney, made a 3-hour long presentation aimed to convince Supreme Court Justice John Muria to strike out Prosser’s case.

His central argument is that Prosser has no standing to challenge the transfer of BTL’s business to Telemedia, as he owns no shares in BTL. According to Courtenay, on August 18, 2006, majority shareholders of BTL approved the business transfer and decided to approach the Government of Belize regarding passing an act to facilitate the process.

Courtenay said that Prosser’s company, Belize Telecom had pledged more than 10 million shares to Royal Merchant Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT), but those shares were lost by Belize Telecom in July after it has defaulted on a $26 million promissory note to the bank that had been due since June 30, 2005.

On July 10, 2007, RBTT sold Prosser’s shares to a subsidiary of BTL, Telemedia Investments Limited, for USD 21.9 million. At the time Belize Telecom owed the bank USD 36 million.

Courtenay revealed that Ecom Ltd., BTL International, Sunshine Holdings, Mercury Communications Limited, BB Holdings Limited, Theirmon and New Horizons Inc. – the group of Michael Ashcroft-controlled companies that together decided to vest BTL’s business in Telemedia – hold 93% of Telemedia’s shares.

The Public Service Union (PSU) and the Belize National Teachers’ Union (BNTU), which together hold 567 666 shares in Telemedia, joined Prosser in the constitutional challenge against Telemedia.

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