Posted: Thursday, September 17, 2020. 1:55 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Cayo South area representative Julius Espat appears to have exposed scion of Prime Minister Dean Barrow, Anwar, as a silent partner in the recently re-approved Boledo and Lottery contract to Brads Gaming Company Limited.
The contract was laid before the House and debated after its approval a few months ago, but Espat defied House Speaker Laura Longsworth on Wednesday to lay bare the private investor from Saint Lucia who has taken majority interest – and his Belizean broker.
Goodlee Company Limited, per Espat, holds 60 percent of shares in Brads; its manager, Kim Wai “Brads” Chee, has the other 40 percent.
And Espat questioned several concerns that he implied were owned by the younger Barrow, whom he referred to as “The Prince of Bel-Air,” in reference to the Will Smith 1990s NBC comedy, among them Quickstop Personal Finance Center Limited, and their relationships to Goodlee and Brads.
In the kicker, Espat listed several payments to these companies and to Barrow personally.
But father defended son during and after the House meeting, raising a point of order that the matter had been debated and was now dead legislatively.
The Prime Minister said, “I don’t know that it’s any information that has any basis. In fact, at all. But if it does, number one: I think I was perfectly in order to say that you can‘t raise again a matter that already came before the House that was already dealt with on the adjournment. Recollect what we‘re talking about, a contract that went to tender, and it‘s no five hundred-million-dollar contract. Brads pays, or the company, pays the government, I think, two million dollars a year and clearly the rest of his earnings after he‘s paid his expenses go to the company. But at no point before we privatized the Boledo was the government making any huge money off the lottery. So, to say that it’s a five hundred-million-dollar contract is absolute nonsense, that’s outrageous.”
Barrow reminded that the contract was opened to tender and that the Lotteries Committee reviewed the bids as did his Ministry of Finance, and the approval was back-stamped by the Office of the Contractor General. He revealed that when the matter came to Cabinet, another of the bids looked more attractive to him personally because the Government would collect more; but it turned out that that concern still owed the Government for prior dealings with lotteries.
And after his report to the House, the matter was debated there and in the Senate. Concerning the younger Barrow’s involvement, the P.M. denied any nepotism, pointing out that he personally had nothing to do with the issuing, review and other scrutiny of the contract beyond bringing it to the House, and a review of shareholders was part of that scrutiny.
It is expected that over the life of the new contract government will only receive approximately twenty million dollars in proceeds.
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