Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2020. 2:36 pm CST.
Belmopan. February 12, 2020.
Like all Belizeans, the Office of the Prime Minister has been closely following developments in the Salt Lake City trial of accused U.S. fraudster Lev Dermen. It has been some time now since documents related to the trial have surfaced with allegations that Belizean officials, including a Minister of Government, have been involved with Dermen in improper activities related to Belize.
The allegations contained assertions that Belizean officials were paid by Dermen and his associates in connection with Dermen’s efforts to obtain Belizean nationality, and a Belizean diplomatic passport and Ambassadorial or Consular status.
The testimony given in the trial this Monday and Tuesday by one Jacob Kingston has proved, to say the least, explosive. Kingston incriminated Minister John Saldivar, in particular, and produced text messages in support of his evidence relating to the allegations he made against Minister Saldivar.
As Prime Minister I have earlier gone on record about this matter. This was after Ministers had ‘sworn’ to Cabinet that none of them had taken any money from Dermen and associates. I said in Cabinet at the time, and later at a press conference, that any Minister subsequently proven indeed to have taken money and therefore to have lied to Cabinet, would have to leave the Cabinet.
That time for leaving, in view of what happened Monday and Tuesday in Salt Lake City, Utah, has unfortunately come. I, therefore, today asked Minister Saldivar to submit to me his resignation as Leader Elect of the United Democratic Party. He has agreed to do so.
In addition to the resignation, I have decided to put the Minister on indefinite suspension from the Cabinet. This will do two things: It will give the Minister a chance to prove the innocence which he strongly maintains; it will also give time for the Government to obtain official transcripts from the trial and direct the Police to launch and complete a thorough investigation into all the allegations made in the course of that Dermen trial.
The UDP will in due time choose a new Leader Elect for the Party.
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