BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 2, 2015–After battling the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU)’s money laundering charge against his clients from January 2009 up to March 2014, in a legal saga that turned out to be downright acrimonious at times, attorney Arthur Saldivar and one of his clients ended right back where it all started—in court.
Melonie Coye, after regaining her freedom and being cleared at the Court of Appeal of the money laundering charge brought against her and her family, not long after accused her attorney, Arthur Saldivar, the former People’s United Party (PUP) Belize Rural North standard bearer, of making off with almost one million dollars of her money. Coye’s allegation set in motion events that would later prove to be Saldivar’s political unraveling, as the PUP removed him from his post as Belize Rural North standard bearer, following an internal party “investigation.”
On Thursday, the case of Melonie Coye v Arthur Saldivar was scheduled to go into case management in the Supreme Court of Justice Shona Griffith.
When Saldivar’s attorney, Hubert Elrington, S.C., emerged from the courtroom, however, he could barely conceal the broad smile on his face as he stepped in front of the cameras and announced that there had been an out-of-court settlement.
“It is finished…the two parties kissed and made up,” said Elrington, who went on to declare that after the terms of the settlement Saldivar owes his former clients “absolutely nothing.”
Elrington, however, refused to go into the details of the settlement, saying only that it is confidential. (It reportedly is a non-disclosure agreement that restricts the parties from discussing it publicly.)
Elrington said that he himself had not seen the final agreement, but was only informed this morning, Thursday, that a motion had been put to the court to discontinue the matter.
Amandala spoke to Melonie Coye at her Johnson Street home, but like Elrington, she also refused to get into specifics about the settlement.
“I am just glad that this is over,” Coye said, noting, “the attorneys were able to settle it out of court and I withdrew my claim against Saldivar.”
Amandala spoke to Saldivar at his Belize City office late this afternoon, but like Coye, Saldivar, a man who has no shortage of words, would only say, “that matter is behind me now. My attorney has advised me not to speak about it.”
The allegation that was made by Melonie Coye is that after the Court of Appeal overturned her conviction and awarded her the $1.5 million that the FIU had seized when they raided the Coye family’s Johnson Street home on December 31, 2008, Saldivar accompanied her to the Belize Central Bank to collect the money.
Coye claimed that Saldivar made off with a briefcase which contained over $900,000 and had been refusing to give it to her.
All along, however, Saldivar insisted that he did not take Coye’s money.
What was it that led to the settlement?
Coye had taken out a civil claim against Saldivar, but did not file a complaint with the police, which would have pushed the issue into the criminal realm, where police could have charged Saldivar with a criminal offense.
For his part, Saldivar had filed court papers against Coye that resulted in a freeze on the estate of the late Michael Coye, Melonie’s father, whom the FIU had also charged with money laundering.
Having resolved Coye’s allegation against him, it now remains to be seen whether Saldivar will be reinstated to his Belize Rural North constituency by the PUP leadership.