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Judge rules BTL re-nationalisation was in public interest, dismisses damages claim

9 Aug 2010

Belize’s Supreme Court has dismissed a claim for damages from parties linked with the ex-management of national PTO Belize Telemedia Ltd (BTL), following the August 2009 re-nationalisation of the telco via the Belize Telecommunications (Amendment) Act No. 9 (or ‘Acquisition Act’). In an application dated October 2009 British Caribbean Bank Ltd and Dean Boyce presented claims against the Attorney General and the Minister of Public Utilities alleging that the Act contravened the constitution. However, in his conclusion, Justice Oswell Legal condemned BTL’s former owners, stating that: ‘…The company faced major issues, including a quagmire of law suits resulting from fights for control and management of the company, which had an unsettling effect on it and which was detrimental to the public interest; the possibility of the life of the company coming to an end by a winding up petition; the use of a large loan from the claimant bank to the company which was used substantially to buy shares in itself; and the decision of the management of the company to lend to a commercial bank – the Belize Bank – USD30 million of the company’s financial resources. There is therefore no merit in the submission that the Minister acted unreasonably, did not take relevant matters into consideration [or] acted on no evidence when he made the Acquisition Act.’ Justice Legal ordered British Caribbean Bank and Dean Boyce to pay costs to the defendants for the litigation process.

Belize, Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL, Digi)

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