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Ex-Attorney General sets deadline for Superbond expense information
January 11, 2022
Three Foreign Affairs departments closed until Thursday
January 11, 2022

Prime Minister says no new firms got paid for Superbond/Blue Bond expenses

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Posted: Tuesday, January 11, 2022. 8:13 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: The office of Prime Minister John Briceño has furnished a response to the query of a senator Michael Peyrefitte over the approximately US$15 million paid in expenses to manage the buyout of the Superbond and establishment of the Blue Bond last year.

The Prime Minister indicates that it is effectively status quo as far as the firms participating in the negotiations for the retirement of the Superbond and establishment of the Blue Bond.

The relevant firms are Citi Capital Markets, HallMark Advisory, Sullivan & Cromwell, Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP, David Polk and Wardwell LLP, The Bank of New York Mellon, Carter Ledyard and Milburn LLP, Eqip Global Restructuring LLC and Global Bondholder Services Corporation. The second named firm is the concern of former People’s United Party area representative and former economic ambassador under the Barrow Administration, Mark Espat; the others are all U.S. based firms and companies.

The relevant portion of the letter states that Government spent (all figures Belize dollars) $20.592 million on the Superbond transaction, a little over 1.6 percent of the outstanding amount of $1,267,844,503.97, and $8,745,409.23 on the Blue Bond transaction, about 1.2 percent of the total amount of that transaction, some $732,115,378.66. The total spent on both transactions was $29,338,391.83.

According to Prime Minister John Briceño as stated in the House of Representatives on October 26, 2021, 60 percent of the fees were success and incentive-based financial, structuring and conservation advisory fees (and would not have been paid if the buyout had not been successful); 34 percent went to legal costs and 6 percent to operational costs.

The Prime Minister subsequently compared the figures to what the Barrow administration spent in 2013 and 2017 on Superbond restructurings and in 2020 on the deferral exercise, stating that the figure was $38,423,126.85, a difference of $9.084 million. Briceño claims that the Dean Barrow administration’s maneuvers raised the Superbond debt by US$103 million; the retirement and subsequent adaptation of the Blue Bond lowered it by US$266 million.

And all of this, Briceño argues, should have been known to Peyrefitte as the listed firms above all worked with the Barrow administration.

The Prime Minister also refuses to concede to Peyrefitte’s claim that, inter alia, “95 percent of the work on the Super Bond buyout and the Blue Bond financing was completed when [our] Administration left office.”

His reply: “Surely your assessment must be based on factors other than the breadth and depth and intricacy of the processes involved in completing a transaction of this magnitude. All the parties involved during the past year in these complex negotiations – bond holders, conservation NGOs, advisors, investment banks, consultants, attorneys, diplomats, insurers, Ministry executives, and many others – are well aware of the expansive, painstaking process involved with hammering out these agreements. Many thousands of hours and hundreds of virtual meetings would not be an exaggeration. Your statements, therefore, risk exposing you as less than honest and your office as less than credible. You should urgently correct the public record.”

We will seek a further response from Peyrefitte later on.

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