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Portico Enterprises Limited developer David Gegg tells Senate environmental clearance held up because he would not pay ‘campaign contribution’

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2024. 10:32 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Developer of Port of Magical Belize David Gegg says he has had a change of heart regarding appearing before the Senate Special Select Committee.

On Wednesday, flanked by his legal advisor, Andrew Bennett, Gegg told the Committee he felt that it is time that the facts be shared with the Belizean people.

According to Gegg, he first engaged with then-Minister of State Tracey Taegar Panton, who chaired the Cabinet Sub-Committee on Investment between 2017 and 2020. He also met with then-Prime Minister Dean Barrow, who instructed that a memorandum of understanding be prepared and signed with the Government which was done in September of 2017 and co-signed by the then Minister of Trade, Economic Development, Petroleum and Investments Erwin Contreras and co-signed by Minister John Saldivar.

While meetings continued with representatives of the Dutch Boskalis firm, a draft definitive agreement had already been circulated as of June 1, 2020, while environmental compliance was before the National Environmental Appraisal Committee (NEAC) by the end of August that year.

Then, says Gegg, came the bombshell: “Around the middle of September, after the August 28 NEAC meeting, which supposedly approved our environmental clearance, I received a message and I interpreted that message as saying to me that the environmental documentation approved on August 28 would not be concluded in the absence of a significant campaign contribution.” He would not say who reached out, but confirmed the amount was “seven figures.”

Gegg concluded that he understood this to be a “quid pro quo” but that was where the matter ended with that Government coming to an end.

Gegg also made sure to stress the role of Mike Peyrefitte’s law firm of Morales Peyrefitte in allegedly drafting the Agreement.

Also heard from was landowner Sanjay Hotchandani who had little to offer the Committee on the sale of parcels of land to Portico Enterprises Limited.

 

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