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Court orders Financial Intelligence Unit to return $3.1 million confiscated from Caribbean International Brewery

Posted: Tuesday, July 11, 2023. 6:14 pm CST.

Photo Credit: CIBCL-Facebook

By Rubén Morales Iglesias: The Magistrate’s Court ruled that the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) is to return $3.1 million to Caribbean International Brewery Company Limited (CIBCL), producers of Mine and R&B Beer and Stout.

The decision comes after the FIU couldn’t convince the Court that they had any case against Caribbean International Brewery following the acquittal of 11 Asian citizens who were freed earlier in July after they were cleared of charges.

The accusation of the Asians and the confiscation of the $3.1 million cash came after a raid of the company in Carmelita in Orange Walk by the Immigration Department and FIU on October 6, 2022.

At the time, the FIU had asked the court permission to keep holding the money as it investigated suspicions of trafficking in persons and money laundering. CIBCL said they were under attack. At the time their attorney said that the majority of the Chinese nationals were here legally and four had been stranded during Covid-19 pandemic but that they had flights to leave via Mexico on October 7, the day after the raid.

Attorney-at-law Dean Barrow told Channel 5 Belize that last Thursday, the FIU filed to continue detaining the $3.2 million for another six months but his media firm made several objections and several representations. The magistrate, he said, ruled that the FIU was no longer entitled to hold the money because they couldn’t convince the magistrate that they would be in a position to present charges with respect to the confiscated cash.

“They put up an affidavit, but I will tell you that, having read it, I found it utterly unconvincing and clearly so did the magistrate,” Barrow said.

The money was to be transferred to CIBCL’s account by bank wire.

CIBCL has also made a submission for a judicial review application to examine the legality of the operation and the confiscation of the company’s funds.

 

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