BELIZE CITY, Wed. Apr. 18, 2018– Meridian Enterprises Limited, owners of one of the largest banana-producing farms in the country, proceeded to sue the international corporation, Fyffes Group Limited, for breach of contract and damages stemming from Fyffes’ abrupt termination of its purported contract with them.
Meridian is only allowed to sell its bananas to the Banana Growers Association (BGA), which, in turn, sells to Fyffes.
Meridian claims that Fyffes believed that John Zabaneh, who was accused by the US of being a drug kingpin (that designation was retracted by the US some months ago), was still associated with the company, Meridian, and had cut them (Meridian) off as a supplier of bananas despite the fact that Meridian had bought over Zabaneh’s farms in 2012.
When Zabaneh was categorized by the US administration as being a “drug kingpin,” no entity wishing to be in good standing with the US could do business with him or his company.
The termination of the contract between BGA and Meridian had resulted in over a thousand lost jobs and millions of lost dollars, said Meridian.
However, two days ago, in court, Fyffes’ attorney, Rodwell Williams, S.C., argued that Meridian had no direct contract to sell to Fyffes, and thus, there was no reason for their claim.
Justice Michelle Arana ruled in favor of Fyffes.
Outside the courtroom, Williams stated that Meridian should have taken the issue up with the Banana Growers Association, in light of the fact that only they are legally authorized to sell bananas to Fyffes for export.
“If BGA doesn’t sell your fruit to Fyffes, you can’t have a fight with Fyffes… They want to sue Fyffes, which is the international foreign company. Let’s go after the deepest pocket,” Williams said.
On the other hand, Jose David Gonzalez, the director of Meridian Enterprises, stated, “[Fyffes] has an exclusive, a monopoly, so to speak, on the bananas grown here in Belize. So if we were growing bananas, who were we selling it to, if we were not a party to that contract?”
When asked for an estimate of the value of lost earnings and other losses they suffered, Gonzalez stated that they are still calculating, but it is, he said, “Absolutely more than tens of millions.”
Gonzalez also stated that Meridian plans to appeal.