Posted: Wednesday, August 30, 2017. 1:24 p.m. CST.
By BBN Staff: The Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), in a press release issued today, confirmed that PM Barrow has received, in his capacity as Minister responsible for the Lands Department, a letter from Attorney Deshawn Arzu Torres on behalf of her client Amy Forte. This press release is the latest development in the alleged corrupt ‘land swapping saga’ involving Andre Vega’s 7 acres acquisition on Mosquito Caye as compensation for a parcel of private land on Caye Caulker that was allegedly fraudulently obtained by Andre Vega from Government using Amy Forte’s name.
According to the release the letter submitted by Forte’s attorneys to the PM “makes clear that Forte was never aware of the Minister’s Fiat Grant no. 175 of 2009 in her name; and that Forte did not sign any conveyance to anyone to which the Grant related”.
The release confirms that Forte and her attorney provided to the Prime Minister a preliminary certificate of a handwriting expert asserting that “the signature purporting to be Forte’s, and which appears on a Deed of Conveyance of the said land to Andre Vega, is not genuine. This is notwithstanding the fact that a JP “authenticated” Ms. Forte’s signature.”
Based on the evidence provided, PM Barrow concluded that “the charge of fraud raised by Forte is credible and must be taken extremely seriously and acted upon”.
The Office of the PM has asked the Belize Police Department to conduct an immediate investigation into the matter with “a view to bringing criminal charges against any person or persons responsible for forgery”.
The release further states that “the Lands Department will move to cancel both Grant no. 175 of 2009 and the Deed of Conveyance to Andre Vega dated 17th February 2010. As well, the Department will cancel the title for 7 acres on Mosquito Caye granted to Andre Vega as compensation for the fact that the land under Grant no 175 of 2009 was privately owned at the time of the Minister’s purported Grant and subsequent transactions.”
According to the PM such compensation cannot stand since the Deed of Conveyance that triggered the compensation was fraudulently executed and legally invalid.
The release ends with the expectation of the Prime Minister that “the Police investigation will be completed as quickly as possible to satisfy the need for justice in this case”.
Earlier today, the Belize Chamber of Commerce issued its own release calling for an investigation of this case by the ‘relevant authorities’ and asking the Prime Minister, as “a responsible leader”, to “encourage a thorough investigation without political interference” and bring to justice anyone involved in this alleged fraud.
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