CARIBBEAN COURT OF JUSTICE ANNOUNCES DECISION IN THE BELIZE BANK LIMITED CASE AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT OF BELIZE CONCERNING THE ENFORCEMENT OF LCIA AWARD
Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited (London – AIM: CIHL; Bermuda – BSX: CIHL) (the “Company”) announces that the Caribbean Court of Justice (the “CCJ”) (the final court of appeal for Belize) has handed down its judgment in a case brought by its banking subsidiary, The Belize Bank Limited (the “Bank”) against the Government of Belize concerning the enforcement of a London Court of International Arbitration (the “LCIA”) arbitral award.
The arbitral award was issued by the LCIA on 16 January 2013 (the “LCIA Award”) and directed the Government to pay BZ$36,895,509.46 (US$18,447,754.73) (as at 7 September 2012) plus interest at 17% compounded on a monthly basis from 8 September 2012 until the date of payment plus costs. This debt arose out of a loan note issued by the Government to the Bank on 23 March 2007 for the sum of BZ$33,545,820 (US$16,772,910) (the “Loan Note”), having defaulted on guarantees it had given to re-pay the Bank for loans advanced to Belize healthcare provider, Universal Health Services.
The LCIA Award confirmed that the Loan Note was valid and binding on the basis of a judgment given by the Privy Council, which was at that time Belize’s highest court of appeal in The Belize Bank Limited v Association of Concerned Belizeans and Others. In this judgment the Privy Council rejected a challenge to the Loan Note brought by the Association of Concerned Belizeans that it did not comply with the Finance and Audit (Reform) Act, 2015.
In its judgment the CCJ granted permission to the Bank to enforce the LCIA Award in the same manner as a judgment or order of the Supreme Court to the same effect. It also ordered that the Bank have its costs for the appeal before the CCJ as well as before the courts below. In light of the interest which has been accruing on the LCIA Award, the total amount due as at 22 November, 2017 is BZ$90,645,607.20 (US$45,322,803.60).
The CCJ’s judgment follows in the footsteps of the enforcement of the LCIA Award in the United States. On 8 June 2016 the US District Court in the District of Colombia enforced the LCIA Award and entered judgment upon it. That decision was appealed by the Government to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The Court of Appeals affirmed the judgment of the District Court on 31 March 2017. And on 13 November 2017 the US Supreme Court rejected the Government’s request to review the decision and judgment enforcing the LCIA Award. As a result, judgments enforcing the LCIA Award are now final and not subject to further appeal in both the United States and Belize.
This long outstanding debt arises from funds originally advanced by the Bank as part of the Belize Government’s policy of healthcare reform in Belize. The Bank’s debt has been confirmed by an international arbitral tribunal, the Privy Council, the courts of the United States, and now the Caribbean Court of Justice. The Company looks forward to the Government of Belize finally settling this debt after years of unnecessary litigation to recover the funds.
Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited (CIHL) is a parent holding company with no independent business operations or assets other than its investments in its subsidiaries, intercompany balances and holdings of cash and cash equivalents. CIHL’s businesses are conducted through its subsidiaries. The Belize Bank Limited (BBL) is incorporated and based in Belize and focuses on the provision of financial services and lending to domestic clients. Belize Bank International Limited is incorporated and based in Belize and focuses on the provision of financial services and lending to international clients. CIHL also owns an international corporate services business based in Belize, which operates as Belize Corporate Services Limited. Within Belize, BBL is the largest, full service commercial and retail banking operation with a head office in Belize City and eleven branches extended into each of the six districts of Belize. The principal operations of BBL are commercial lending, consumer lending, deposit taking and related banking activities.
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