Godfrey was seeking US$10 million, plus interest, in telecom suit
Belizean attorney Glenn D. Godfrey, SC, has lost a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against the Government of Belize, in which he asked a Florida court to award US$10 million, plus interest to his company on allegations that the Musa administration had, over a decade ago, breached a telecommunications agreement with the now defunct Intelco – International Telecommunications Limited.
Godfrey, who was appointed Attorney General and Minister of Tourism and Environment in 1993, under the People’s United Party administration, had alleged breach of a Master Lease Agreement between International Telecommunications Limited (“INTELCO”) and ex-Minister of Budget Management, Ralph Fonseca back in 2002.
The lawsuit was filed last year. Although the Government of Belize has managed to get that case struck out of the US court, the case may be revived here in Belize, should Godfrey choose to pursue it further.
Whereas the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida has dismissed Godfrey’s case, having upheld Belize’s objections to the lawsuit, “the Court ruled that Belize provided an adequate alternate forum to litigate this matter and that the Plaintiff GDG could reinstate its case in Belize.”
Amandala contacted the office of Glenn Godfrey in Belize City and Godfrey’s office told us that he is out of the country and no one else was able to respond.
For its part, the Government of Belize took note of this round of victory against Glenn Godfrey.
In a press release issued on Tuesday, it said that, “The Court found that this was a case in which the interests of Belize far outweighed the interests of the United States, as the Belizean court system would have a strong interest in ensuring that its national laws were properly interpreted and applied.”
GDG Acquisitions LLC, a Florida corporation, had filed the lawsuit February 10, 2012, roughly two weeks after the company was formed in the USA. According to an article which appeared online on Offshore Alert, GDG had acquired rights in the master lease and related telecoms agreement on February 6, 2012, in a web of transactions dating back a decade, involving LGS Services Limited, the forerunner of Intelco.
“GDG Acquisitions claimed that it had acquired all the rights under the said Master Lease Agreement by way of an assignment from INTELCO,” the Government of Belize explained via press release.
Michael Ashcroft, at the time when he ran Belize Telecommunications Limited (now Belize Telemedia Limited, BTL), spoke of the then telecommunications rival as “a pension plan for the boys,” Prime Minister Barrow said after learning of the suit last year. Intelco flopped; now here Godfrey comes, suing the Government of Belize for US$10 million, Barrow added.
The Government of Belize was represented by the US law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP.
In defending the claim, the Government of Belize filed a “Motion to Dismiss the Complaint” on the ground, among others, that Florida was an inconvenient forum for the litigation of this matter, as the subject matter and the witnesses were located in Belize.
GOB also disputed the validity of the Master Lease Agreement, contending that Fonseca didn’t have the constitutional authority to seal the agreements on behalf of the Government of Belize.
“Belize, therefore, argued that GDG’s claim should be dismissed under the principle of international comity, as it would involve interpretation of the Belize Constitution and other laws which were essentially matters for the Belizean courts,” GOB’s release furthermore explains.
Amandala also tried to get comment from Prime Minister Dean Barrow on the latest development; but at the time of this report, he had not responded to our request for an interview.