Posted: Wednesday, January 15, 2020. 4:37 pm CST.
By BBN Staff: Prime Minister Dean Barrow in a press conference this afternoon at the Biltmore Hotel addressed the media and the public regarding allegations that at least two members of his Cabinet received payments from Armenian-American fraudster Levon Dermen.
Barrow said that as the documents made public have not named any Minister or member of Cabinet, he is not able to act in the absence of any evidence or as much of a concrete allegation against anyone in specific. He stated, however, in no uncertain terms that any member of his Cabinet proven to have accepted any such payments would be fired henceforth.
The Prime Minister fielded questions about investigating various aspects of the allegations made against the unnamed Belizean officials, one of whom reportedly received a $25,000 payment from Dermen monthly.
Since news broke of Belizean officials being named in the scandal, speculation has run rampant as to who might be revealed as Dermen’s Belize accomplice. When asked about the possibility of either of the two UDP leadership candidates being named in the testimony, Barrow said it would warrant immediate firing and disqualification from next month’s leadership convention.
During the press conference Barrow also revealed that senior UDP Minister, Michael Finnegan was the one who recommended Dermen as an honorary consul in Las Vegas, Nevada but estimated that simply making a recommendation for a non-diplomatic status did not amount to anything untoward on Finnegan’s behalf. The question was raised as Barrow was asked about allegations that Dermen sought and nearly succeeding in getting diplomatic status via connections in Belize. The PM scoffed at the notion and said any such diplomatic appointment could only come from his office making it an impossibility for Dermen.
The PM also noted that if next month’s leadership convention were to be impacted by any revelations in this latest scandal, it could prolong his timeline for eventual retirement. For now, Barrow stated, we would just need to wait and see what evidence, if any, emerges implicating high-level Cabinet members of accepting bribes from Dermen. He says at yesterday’s Cabinet meeting he asked each member present if they had ever accepted any money from Dermen to which they all said no, and Barrow said he was satisfied in believing them.
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