Mr. Barrow, Prime Minister of Belize, and the man who is firmly in the sights of the very powerful Federal Trade Commission (FTC), did the only thing he could possibly do at a press conference called at the Princess Ramada on Wednesday afternoon. He denied everything that was alleged by the FTC in a scathing 50-page Court document. He denied, and blustered, and at various points was careful to appear violated and put upon by the dastardly FTC – yet, at no point, did the Prime Minister go so far as to say that the FTC lied.
In fact, after he had, almost at the point of tears lamented about the damage to his ‘good’ name and reputation, and the damage done by extension to his government, Mr. Barrow was asked if he would be taking legal action against the FTC. To that query, the Master of Litigation responded, “No sir, I will not tangle with the FTC. No sir…if I never hear the name FTC again in my life, I will be an extremely happy man.
The Belize Times would be willing to place a very big wager on a bet that the Prime Minister, in addition to likely seeing the FTC in his nightmares, will be in very close proximity to elements of the FTC for some time to come, and not proximity that will pleasure him.
The press conference on Wednesday was hurriedly called after the 50-page legal document filed in a Florida Court on June 10 by the FTC made its rounds of the media. That document, which was a bombshell that rocked the government on its already shaky foundation, formed a part of the FTC’s opposition to Atlantic International Bank Limited’s application for bankruptcy proceedings to be heard in Belize. That 50-page lashing of the PM, members of his Cabinet and other assorted political cronies was enough to wake Mr. Barrow from his Rip Van Winkle type slumber.
In the lengthy indictment of the government, Prime Minister Barrow, his law firm Barrow and Williams and assorted cronies and officials in Cabinet and in the highest ranks of AIBL, the FTC painted a picture that the Government and its Central Bank, AIBL and the principals of Sanctuary Bay who spearheaded the scam and defrauded investors of over $100MILLION, were all in bed together. In fact, the document speaks of the Prime Minister meeting with the principal of Sanctuary Bay when it was already known that this principal was a man of very questionable character. The document goes further to claim that the impression coming out of that meeting and others was that somehow Prime Minister Barrow owed Sanctuary Bay for his popularity. The document even suggest that Barrow may own land in Sanctuary bay, and that his law partner, Rodwell Williams, owns two parcels in the shady development. What a thing.
Readers will remember when UDP Senator and AIBL attorney Aldo Salazar was stopped in the US as he passed through, and allegedly questioned by the FTC. Salazar had denied the report, claiming that it was a routine Customs stop. Well the FTC has come out plainly to accuse Salazar of acting with AIBL to facilitate the Sanctuary Bay scam.
In a nutshell, the FTC is asking that AIBL’s application be heard in a US Court and not in Belize, because the government of Belize and the Prime Minister cannot be trusted, and the rights of all the American nationals defrauded by the principals in Sanctuary Bay, clients of Barrow and Williams, would not be safeguarded.
Mr. Barrow can bluster all he likes, but the fact that he would not go on record to claim that the FTC lied in the application to the Florida Court is an indictment in itself. The Prime Minister can go on the stage to an audience in Belize, and twirl and pirouette all he likes, but the country has gotten another major black eye, thanks to the man who entered his terms of leadership, double-sided machete in hand, and, then, promptly lost the machete and any will to do anything about the corruption at the highest levels of his administration.
This FTC thing will not go away. Mr. Barrow knows well why he will not sue the FTC. And he knows well why he cannot state, on the record that the FTC lied in that document. The truth will come to light. Some people it will free, and others it will imprison. Wait for it.