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.