7 News Belize

Venezuela and the Belize Bank
posted (December 16, 2008)

Last week, we broadcast a story illustrating how the 20 million USD in grants from Taiwan and Venezuela to the government and people of Belize were transferred to the Belize Bank to settle the Universal Debt.

The story was about the executive stealth of then Prime Minister Said Musa, how he mis-spoke every time we asked him about the status of the debt – even as the grant funds were being transferred to the Bank without the public even knowing that those grants existed. In that story we relied upon the Central Bank’s first translation of the wiring details for the Venezuelan money that was circulated to the media by the Government in March of 2008.

In Spanish it reads “DESEMBOLSO UNICO GOB DE BELICE PARA CONSTRUCCION Y REPARACION DE VIVIENDA.” At the time, the Central Bank translated that to mean: “disburse only to the government of Belize for construction and repair of houses.” And that’s the translation we used. But since March, that has been revised, the accepted translation by both The Central Bank and the Belize Bank now is: “single disbursement to the government of Belize for construction and repair of houses.”

That’s a notable change because there is no suggestion in this wording that there was an instruction to the Belize bank in how the money should be used or to whom it should be paid. Whichever wording, though, the Government of Belize holds the view that the 10 million US dollars was intended for the people of Belize.

Still, the difference is significant for the Belize Bank, which has maintained that at all times it was not a party to and knew nothing of the arrangements between the Government of Venezuela and Belize. And indeed, our story did not suggest that the hospital debt was paid off without authority from Government – in fact, the point was that if authority was given, it was kept a secret from the people of Belize.

Those who did know of any arrangements - a small list which for sure included the Prime Minister, Said Musa, the CEO in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amalia Mai and the Minister of Housing Ralph Fonseca - knowingly concealed the central facts and subsequent details. If the inference was drawn that the Belize Bank was complicit in the diversion, that was wholly unintentional.

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