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Millions upon millions: GOB loses $20 million in another court battle

Posted: Sunday, May 13, 2018. 9:12 a.m. CST.

By BBN Staff: The Government of Belize’s latest loss in the Supreme Court will cost the people of Belize $20 million.

Sunshine Limited a company owned by the government, sued GOB, Dean Boyce and the Belize Telemedia Employee’s Trust, and lost the case on Friday. Justice Courtenay Able heard the case with Eamon Courtenay representing the Trust and Rodwell Williams representing Sunshine.

While Sunshine was under the control of Michael Ashcroft, it took a loan from the Social Security Board for $20 million. GOB acquired Sunshine, which owned 11 million shares in BTL, during the 2009 nationalization.

Sunshine’s claim was for $114 million dollars out of the almost half-billion dollar settlement paid out as compensation for the nationalization. GOB was also using the litigation as a means to escape the $20 million owed to the SSB. Justice Able heard submissions from attorneys for both sides from Wednesday to Friday and gave an oral judgment at the end of the hearing dismissing Sunshine’s claim, saying that it didn’t have any merit.

“It seems to me that Sunshine is not seeking to get justice. It is seeking to get a windfall… This court will not allow its process to be used to permit that… This court cannot find that any of the monies paid… have been wrongly made or directed…” Justice Able said.

Notably, Able could have reserved judgment as is a common practice with judges in complex cases, but he delivered his oral judgment right away with the written judgment to follow. He also ordered that Sunshine pay the Trust’s attorney fees.

Attorney for the Trust, Eamon Courtenay, said that the claim was “bizarre” to begin with and could have only ended in failure.

“You cannot pay money to somebody under an agreement, approved by the court, and then, a few months later, get somebody to come on your behalf to get back that very same money,” Courtenay said.

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