BELIZE CITY, Mon. Jan. 9, 2017–The Government of Belize and the Ashcroft Alliance have been in a protracted legal battle over a claim for hundreds of millions of dollars in a slew of litigation dating back to 2009, and reports reaching our newsroom today are that the US Supreme Court has issued a decision today signaling that it will not accept Belize’s petition against enforcing the awards in the USA.
“The justices denied certiorari [an order by which a higher court can revisit a lower court’s decision] to cases that had been originally brought by Belize Social Development Ltd., Newco Ltd. and BCB Holdings Ltd., which stem from awards that were issued by various arbitral tribunals and were all confirmed by the D.C. Circuit,” Law360 reported today.
In a news release issued today, Caribbean Investment Holdings Limited (formally known as BCB Holdings Limited) and the Belize Bank Limited (collectively known as Caribbean Investment Holdings), said that they “have achieved a win in a lengthy process to achieve judicial recognition in the United States of an international arbitration award rendered in London, England in August 2009 against the Government of Belize (‘GOB’).”
The Government of Belize lost its three cases and must pay $55 mil, $45 mil and $8.5 mil
The company said that it commenced proceedings in Washington, D.C., to enforce the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) award in July 2014.
“Today, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it had denied the Government of Belize’s petition for certiorari, rendering the May 2015 judgment in favor of Caribbean Investment Holdings final and not subject to further judicial review,” stated the release.
“This victory clears the way for Caribbean Investment Holdings to collect on the judgment against GOB. That judgment, including interest, is currently worth approximately US$27.5 million [BZ$55 mil],” the release added.
“This result has important implications for many cases involving enforcement of foreign arbitral awards in the US. We are very pleased with the outcome,” said Benno Kimmelman, a partner with Sidley Austin LLP who argued the case on behalf of BCB Holdings.
We note that the original award in this case was for BZ$37 million in the dispute between the Government and the bank over a government guarantee for Universal Health Services, now Belize Healthcare Partners Limited.
This is only one of three cases which Belize has just lost in the US Court. We reported on the second award in a separate article in this edition of the newspaper. In that case, Belize Social Development Limited, another Ashcroft company, had won a BZ$38 million award against the Government of Belize in the dispute which involves Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL).
The BSDL victory clears the way for BSDL to collect on the judgment which, including interest, is approximately U.S. $22.5 million (BZ$45 mil), said the law firm, Sidley Austin LLP, in its statement issued today.
Thankfully, that figure is less than the BZ$75 mil estimated by Financial Secretary Joseph Waight when we spoke with him some weeks ago.
The third case lost by Belize in the US Supreme Court is for a BZ$8.5 mil award (not adding interest accrued to date) in favor of Newco, a company set up in Belize by US investors in a botched airport concession deal. Newco had won foreign arbitration held in Miami.
Together, the three foreign arbitral awards now total at least BZ$109 million: BZ$55 mil and BZ$45 mil for the Ashcroft companies, and BZ$8.5 mil plus interest for the Newco award.