GOB gets $12M in Dividends from BTL Print E-mail
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Thursday, 17 October 2013 00:00

BTL HeadquartersThe Belize Telemedia Limited declared dividends in the sum of ,889,000 for the year ended March 2012 and ,388,000 for the year ended March 2013. In 2012 Dean Boyce and British Caribbean Bank Limited made an application to the Caribbean Court of Justice to restrain BTL from paying dividends to shareholders since the constitutionality of the nationalization was being disputed. On September 26th, 2012 the CCJ ordered that Government, being the majority shareholder of BTL, should ensure that no dividends be released before December 14th, 2012.

Shortly after that order expired and the company had proceeded to pay dividends to its shareholders, the CCJ granted an extension on the previous order and ordered Government to return the money to an escrow account. Government abided by the ruling but made an application to the CCJ on December 17th, 2012 on behalf of the more than 1400 small shareholders. The CCJ approved Government’s application and dividends were paid to the small shareholders. However, the CCJ further ordered that there be no payment of dividends to the large shareholders (GOB, Central Bank of Belize and the Social Security Board) until the Court says otherwise or the matter is heard to completion.

On Tuesday, October 15th, the CCJ said otherwise. Government made an application for the Court to discharge the existing order which restrained BTL from paying dividends to its shareholders. Senior Counsel Denys Barrow, Naima Barrow and Iliana Swift represented the Government of Belize. Queen’s Counsel Lord Peter Goldsmith and Senior Counsel Godfrey Smith represented Dean Boyce while Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay and Jose Alpuche represented the British Caribbean Bank Limited. At the end of the hearing, the CCJ ruled that BTL may be allowed to pay fifty percent of the declared dividends to shareholders. Of the more than $24 million that have been declared as dividends only about a million dollars had actually been paid out, to small shareholders only. The remaining dividends will continue to be kept in an escrow account until the matter of ownership and compensation is ruled upon.