Friday, May 10, 2019
During his pre-Referendum media interview on Monday May 6, Prime Minister Barrow made a very interesting allegation that might be full of Financial Sector implications. He alluded to Senator Salazar being detained in Houston and being questioned as one attorney for Atlantic International Bank. The Prime Minister is his usual self was ready to throw the matter as a nothingness but there are concerns.
The United Democratic Party came into power while verbally castigating the Prime Minister at the time for making agreements with Belize Bank, BTL, and Universal owners without public disclosure. Now, he slips under a door that the ‘victims’ of the investment scam might be compensated by Belize. All this when Belizeans still find it difficult to make ends meet and get a land title for themselves. Ahead are the portions of the interview.
Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister: “I don’t know if he(Senator Salazar) was detained. I gather that he was questioned about Atlantic International Bank but the bank is now in liquidation. The Central Bank has appointed a liquidator, Mr. Murillo. I don’t mind telling you that I had a meeting with the U.S. chargé d’affaires on Tuesday and the FTC(US Federal Trade Commission) people called into that meeting. We were having the meeting and they wanted to participate and so we are talking a settlement. So I am hopeful that we can get a settlement. The question is how to reconcile the FTC’s interest, as they put it, victim compensation and our interests which also has to be in their interest as well, in making sure of depositors eighty add percent of whom are Americans don’t get left with nothing. The Central Bank has a vested interest. You can call the Central Bank an interested party and the Government of Belize is very keen on seeing this thing sorted because we want whatever cloud the AIBL saga has caused to be lifted from over our jurisdiction.”
(End of March 2019 Belize Times Story)In November of 2018, the Atlantic International Bank was named in a civil complaint by the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC had shut down Sanctuary Belize, a large overseas real estate investment scam. Sanctuary Belize was a 14,000 acre development which was set up as an elaborate scheme by its American principals. The scam purportedly involved $100 million dollars from investors, but lots in southern Belize to be used in a luxury development were never delivered. Many US investors were fraudulently convinced. Millions of dollars now had to be recovered.
The Central Bank of Belize says that the shutdown is not under their purview.
Even as this Atlantic Bank International is not the one accessed by most Belizeans, it is still an important part of our banking sector. It is definitely not how we would like to be perceived by the international community. This is the very same international community that is supposedly hawk-eyed about our referendum. The public needs to keep its own collective eyes on this one as it IS of our interest.