BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 23, 2020– Two months ago, reports of the misuse of Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL)’s corporate credit card by the company’s former chairman, Nestor Vasquez, Sr., made headlines, and the company’s Board of Trustees had pledged to launch a full investigation into his spending.
As of last week, details have been emerging regarding the former BTL Chairman’s spending, and it has been determined that he made charges for almost up to one million dollars for personal expenses.
The audit conducted has revealed that Vasquez owed BTL $858,197.87. This total includes $684,197.69 in credit card charges, $29,231.75 in fuel charges and $22,956 in personal insurance premiums.
An additional $122,611.59 was accrued in outstanding telephone and internet bills for Tropical Vision, Vasquez’s media company, associated with Channel 7 News.
In order to reduce Vasquez’s debts, Channel 7 had been offered a bloated 26-month contract for advertising worth $336,375, and Vasquez has also made cash payments of $168,945.40 via salary deductions.
After those deductions from the amount outstanding, Vasquez would still owe $353,877.47. Reports indicate, however, that BTL’s contract with Tropical Vision’s Channel 7 has been discontinued, which could mean that Vasquez would also have to pay back the portion of his debt that would have been settled via the said contract.
These reports have been especially unsettling for BTL’s employees, who apparently have been experiencing a reduction in their pension and have had to forego certain benefits as a part of the company’s COVID-19 austerity measures.
Belize Communications Workers Union president, Garry Yearwood, has gone on record to express these frustrations of BTL’s employees in light of what they have come to know about Vasquez’s use of company money to cover personal expenses.
Yearwood states that the union would like to receive a copy of the audit so that they could submit their recommendations on how the company should proceed for the benefit of the employees. According to him, staff members feel that they have been dealt with unfairly and they would like to see a recovery of as much of the funds that Vasquez spent as is possible so that employees can receive some form of compensation for what has been lost thus far.
In addition, Yearwood states that the union has heard nothing from the new BTL Board, and so far they do not know who are the new directors.