The missing USD 10 million from Venezuelan Grant detected

The situation with the missing USD 10 million out of the Venezuelan grant of USD 20 million has been described previously. To remind, according to the announcements of the previous administration, the Venezuelan Government awarded a grant to Belize in the sum of USD 10 million to be distributed the particular way. However, the initial sum appeared to amount to a twice bigger sum – USD 20 million. So, the new Belizean Government declared its intention to understand the real situation and to make all the necessary efforts to account for all the funds sent.

Former Prime Minister Said Musa admitted that he had used USD 10 million from the Venezuelan grant of USD 20 million in order to settle a government guarantee with the Belize Bank. Musa confirmed that he had deliberately under-stated the amount of the Venezuelan grant.

Recently, a new Prime Minister Dean Barrow described the action of the former Prime Minister as outrageous and absolutely reprehensible. Barrow spoke at a press conference at the VIP lounge of the Philip Goldson International Airport, before taking off for a CARICOM conference in the Bahamas, to reveal that Musa accompanied by former Minister of National Security, Ralph Fonseca has requested a private meeting with him. At this meeting, the retired Prime Minister informed Barrow that the Government of Venezuela had transferred the sum of USD 20 million as a grant to the Government of Belize, and that last year the CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amalia Mai, travelled to Caracas to sign a contract designating how the money was to be spent. According to Musa, Mai returned to Belize without a copy of this contract.

Barrow expressed his government’s determination to find out the terms agreed upon in the contract signed by a Belize representative and to get to the whole truth regarding the Venezuelan grant.

Sydney Campell, Governor of the Central Bank of Belize, who was present at the press conference, was asked about the funds transferred from Venezuela. Campbell said that the first USD 10 million was transferred to the Central Bank of Belize, while the other USD 10 million was sent directly to a Belize Bank subsidiary in the Turks and Caicos Islands. According to Campell, the transfer of the funds to a subsidiry was unusual, and irregular moves by the Belize Bank were the reason for him to initiate an investigation into the bank’s activities.

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