BELIZE CITY, Mon. Feb. 26, 2018– The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) has set dates for submissions in an appeal brought by Titan International Securities against the Government of Belize.
Belize Solicitor General Nigel Hawke told reporters last Thursday, February 22, that the dates had been set by the CCJ for Titans to make submissions on April 16 and for the government side to respond by April 30, 2018.
Titans Securities owners, Bahamians Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles, had filed the appeal at the CCJ after the Belize Court of Appeal struck down a Supreme Court decision last June to award them $8.8 million in compensation, even though the court had reasoned that the search was excessive and unlawful.
The award, which was given by Supreme Court Justice Courtenay Abel, was for the unlawful closure of Titan Securities in September 2014, when the Financial Intelligence Unit, which was acting in coordination with United States agents, closed the company’s operations at the Matalon Building, located on Coney Drive in Belize City, because the owners had been indicted in the US on a federal indictment for securities fraud.
Solicitor General Nigel Hawke told reporters, “If you recall, the Court of Appeal basically reversed the decision of the trial judge, so now we are at the CCJ for case management yesterday. Basically, it was just to fix dates for hearing and the dates for submissions. I think the schedule hearing date is tentatively fixed for the 15th of May, but that may change, but that’s the tentative date.”
Solicitor General Hawke was asked if he thinks the government’s case can withstand the scrutiny of the CCJ.
“That’s a tough question. We feel we have a good case, but I really can’t try these matters in the press because these matters are sub judice, and I don’t know how the court will rule. We have to go make our arguments, but we feel confident in our argument,” Hawke replied.
Kelvin Leach and Rohn Knowles, apart from being indicted in the US for securities fraud, have also been the subject of a US extradition request, but have been released on Supreme Court bail of $50,000 each.
The bail was granted after Supreme Court justice Dennis Hanomansingh found that they were wrongly imprisoned at the initial stage of the US extradition request, when the provisional arrest warrant was signed by a regular magistrate, instead of the Chief Magistrate, as is a requirement under the 2000 Extradition Treaty between Belize and the United States.