The web site Belize TV made this allegation about the diversion of funds received from foreign governments to pay off a private loan:
|Belizeans take to the streets to protest against Lord Michael Ashcroft’s Belize Bank Ltd. over $20M diverted from the public treasury to pay off a private loan that had been secretly guaranteed by Belize’s former prime minister, Said Musa. (June 18. 2008)|
Johnston International Ltd., the company that refurbished the Barbados Hilton (and recently settled a lawsuit against an agency of the Barbados Government), is owned by Belize Holdings Inc. (BHI). “BHI is a multi-national conglomerate whose Chairman is Lord Michael Ashcroft.” This August, Lord Michael was reported to have been a target of protests in Belize regarding (according to the Economist) a “$10m transfer from Venezuela to the government of Belize that has, in effect, ended up in the coffers of Belize Bank”.
Allegation: Funds Diverted
A Wikipedia article on Said Musa suggests that there may be some basis for the allegations:
|Musa has since found himself at the centre of more controversy when Prime Minister Dean Barrow revealed that Musa and his former Minister of Housing Ralph Fonseca had secretly diverted public funds (10 million USD from the Venezuelan Government and 10 million USD from Taiwan in the form of gifts for housing improvement and reconstruction and upgrading the healthcare in Belize) to pay off the controversial debt incurred by the private hospital Universal Health Services (U.H.S.). Musa maintains that the payoff will improve the quality of health care in Belize despite magnanimous public opposition and the fact that the institution has no Government involvement. It is widely believed that the U.H.S. has been in the possession of cronies of Musa’s party. Still, even now that the Government has paid the debt for the formerly private institution, it still cannot claim ownership to a single share. The owners of the hospital are yet to be publicly revealed.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow has committed his government to a thorough investigation into the matter, as well as legal action if the investigation finds legal wrongdoings. Musa has not since given any public statements, save for a single pre-recorded statement in which he revealed that parts of unaccounted monies gifted to Belize had been diverted to the Belize Bank (owned by British businessman and billionaire Lord Michael Ashcroft).
According to Wikipedia, the same Dean Barrow represented several “controversial clients” including “Lord Michael Ashcroft and the businesses he is in charge of, particularly the Belize Bank and BTL.” Barrow is an interesting position, as I would think that as a lawyer he may be in possession of his clients’ privileged information.
- Lord Michael Ashcroft’s own web site
- Mirror.co. UK Belize City 27/09/2008 - Exclusive: The peer who bankrolls the Tories is ‘the boss’ of a poor tax haven
- Telegraph.co.UK 07 Dec 2003 - Howard rejects Ashcroft’s £2m deal ‘with strings’
- The Australian June 11, 2008: Lord Ashcroft emerges as white knight
- BBC 31 March, 2000 - Ashcroft: The Tories’ troublesome tycoon
- World Socialist 4 August 1999 - The case of British Tory Treasurer Michael Ashcroft: wealth, patronage and parliamentary politics
- ConservativeHome’s ToryDiary: Lord Ashcroft to leave £900m to charity
- Tax-News.Com 12 August 2002 - Lord Ashcroft Implicated In Tyco Investigation
- January 15, 2003: DEA Analyst Convicted for Leaking Unclassified Information
- Barbados Free Press, July 27, 2008: Canadian CIBC-Owned FirstCaribbean International Bank Indicted In 100 Money-Laundering Act Charges! Barbados News Media Hides The Story
- Amandala 29/08/2008 - Untouchables?
- The Guardian 11/12/2008 - Mark Espat, Cordel Hydel and Lord Michael Ashcroft
- The Reporter 19/12/2008 - Ashcroft and BTL probing GOB financial weak spot