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Feinstein, Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank (Waterloo), Luke, Gegg

FeaturesFeinstein, Atlantic Bank, Belize Bank (Waterloo), Luke, Gegg

by Colin Hyde

I’ve never met any of the heroes with human names mentioned in the title of this piece. I once got a small loan from the Belize Bank. Thank you, thank you. I once applied for a small loan from Atlantic Bank and was denied. I don’t complain about Atlantic Bank for not favoring, taking a chance on, me. Disappointed I was, yes, but uncomplaining.

Gegg, Feinstein, and Luke are Belizeans, and big players in the PUP and Belize’s money world. Atlantic Bank and Belize Bank do business here, so there is some Belizeaness to those entities. You don’t employ many Belizeans, and invest in buildings and things, and I bet pay some taxes, without us, as a result, having any soft spot for you. Of course, it would be so much better if they were full-blown Belizean, plowing the profits into our economy. Okay, okay, I’m ignoring the corporate ruthlessness of one of the entities. Whoa there, don’t business schools teach that negotiations with a government and people are different from the competition between private companies?

Moving on, the common thread among the above five is that they are all players and wannabe players in the cruise tourism industry. I must pause here to tell you that if you’re looking for stuff on the innards, you have to look elsewhere. I don’t know anything that you don’t know. So, this is going to be boring. So, if you live for thrills, I suggest you cut to my other snippet or another story in the newspaper.

Okay, to the tale of dreams/ambition, greed, and broken hearts. We know that Feinstein had the cruise terminal at the old Customs at Fort Street in Belize City. We know that when Luke got Port of Belize Ltd. (PBL), a part of the program there was that he would expand into cruise tourism, landing the ships at a pier connected to the shore. We know that project collapsed.

At some point Feinstein apparently parted with Fort Street and set his eyes on Stake Bank. And Belize Bank (Waterloo) took over PBL from Luke and set their hearts on landing the world’s biggest ships. We know the past government (UDP) gave Harvest Caye exclusivity. We know the UDP gave the green light to Stake Bank, without exclusivity. My memory is indicating that by the time Stake Bank got the big break, the court had ruled no más to exclusivity. Around the time they gave the green light to Stake Bank, the UDP agreed to look at Gegg’s project, Portico, a couple miles south of the Sibun. There’s a “Definitive Agreement” on the Portico thing, but we’ll leave that out, because it is immersed in debate.

In March 2021, a progress report in International Cruise Ship Industry said “Port Coral’s [that’s Stake Bank] construction started in May, 2020 concentrating on the large buildings, a swimming pool, a shopping plaza and land improvements” and “completion of the piers is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022.”

In October 2021, GoB made a statement on Cruise Ports and Port Development. GoB noted that the Feinstein causeways were under review. GoB said a causeway to Drowned Cay was real estate-related, and “unlike Stake Bank, not foundational to the cruise tourism sector.” GoB also said that, based on what UDP ministers had said about the project, “Cabinet expects that the viability of the Stake Bank cruise facility, for its investors and financiers, is NOT contingent on the construction of causeways to the mainland.” I understand Stake Bank insists that the causeways are indispensable.

We know Waterloo made its strongest move for the monster ships when the PUP became the ruling administration, and they were denied because the Green Arm of government had some issues with the scope of the plan. We know that there was a lot of to and fro about the Portico project. We know questions weren’t answered about Stake Bank’s proposal to construct causeways. Just before the Atlantic Bank/Stake Bank relationship brok, the Stake Bank plan for dredging a channel west of Water Cay was announced for public discussion.

Whew! If you’re still here, now we can get to some little comments and questions running through my little mind. Oh yes, there are questions. We could start with full disclosure on the UDP agreeing to entertain discussion about the Portico proposal. Was that just a formality? It cost money and time to put that Portico project together. And land distribution. Some people make money off a charade. If that is the case, were the Portico people in on it—that at the end of the process they would come up empty? Gegg of Portico faced the Senate on Wednesday. I got the files late, so my two cents on that has to wait.

It seems that the Stake Bank principal, Feinstein, made a bid for de facto exclusivity, and didn’t win. Stake Bank’s roots affiliate, FECTAB, was present at a town meeting to discuss Waterloo at PBL, and they lambasted it. Stake Bank and Waterloo were one voice to sink Portico. And some UDP and PUP were in on the anti-Portico stance.

Mr. Feinstein has said that there are not enough cruise tourists to make more than one project feasible. WE have no numbers to go on, and until then we’ll have to call that hearsay. Did Stake Bank stall the project to pressure government to give de facto exclusivity? There’s a lot of money invested in Stake Bank, and we are two years past the scheduled completion of the piers.

It looks like Atlantic Bank’s shareholders saw a stall game, and it may be that they have less interest in winning the whole shebang. On the surface, their winnings are fixed on interest rates and such, not in throughput.

I am in utter disbelief about some of the stories being flung about. I bet your mind is boggled too. Did Waterloo’s Belize Bank really offer to buy out all of Stake Bank?

We really have to wish that there’s a quick all’s well that ends well. We, we are just waiting for the jobs and the taxes. But daam, these dratid lawyers have got their tentacles in, and from Slack to Dragten to modern ones, nothing good has ever come to Belize that involves this breed.

Congratulations to 7, but I didn’t know …

… it was a racket. The story about is that Channel 7 won the investigative journalism award, again, and that’s no surprise, because it seems Mr. Vasquez has a conduit to official places, and he is as fearless as Wil Maheia. What surprises me is the story that got him the prize. Well I be darned, I didn’t know there was a gun racket; I thought it was just a very simple gun policy that had been passed down through the years. Did someone have an arsenal, a dozen weapons? I bet Sagastume didn’t have that many guns when he invaded Toledo. If he had an arsenal like some of us have, our brothers in PG with their stones and machetes who were ready to defend turf, they wouldn’t have stood a chance.

You mean there was hard evidence that police were giving gun licenses to people who a law or code said shouldn’t own one? The story is that even Shyne Barrow got a license. Sorry, I would never have given him one. And he shouldn’t have applied for a license. When a sensible rum drinker takes a bad fall, he becomes a teetotaler for life. I mean, if he can have a gun, everybody can have one. Man, even the gun-crazy USA doesn’t restore the right to guns to someone who has been found guilty of a felony with a gun.

I thought it was laxness, not a racket. But this award says otherwise. Wow, I can’t believe our police were engaged in a gun racket. Is there any chance for Belize when those we trust are deep in unsavory games?

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