GOB collects 77.5 million dollars from IMMARBE and IBC Print
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Written by Administrator   
Thursday, 07 December 2017 00:00

77 million, 590 thousand and 68 dollars is the combined revenue that the International Business Companies Registry (IBC) and the International Merchant Marine Registry of Belize (IMMARBE), has been able to procure for and on behalf of the Government and people of Belize. The money is the combined total for operations of the two companies since 2015. In that year IBC made USD$7,103,430.00; in 2016 it was USD$7,536,980.00 and this year its up to USD$8,143,235.00. IMMARBE has had as much success with operations in 2015 bringing in US $6,274,207; in 2016 it was US $5,332,145 and this year, 2017 saw US $4,405,037 in revenues.

It is significant that these numbers are brought to the fore as prior to 2013, all revenues collected by these companies were paid to a company controlled by Michael Ashcroft related entities. That company went by the name Belize International Services Limited. Under the arrangement BISL received 64% of revenues while Government received 46%.

On June 11, 2013 the government of Belize under Rt. Hon. Dean Barrow nationalized the two companies. It is of note that both companies are gateways by which those seeking to conduct business in Belize would use. IMMARBE sells the right for persons to sail using the Belize flag while IBC registers offshore companies for them to be able to conduct business in Belize under tax-free status and secrecy of their corporate affairs.

The companies were nationalized after the contract by Belize International Services Limited had come to an end. When GOB informed BISL that the contract had expired they, not surprisingly came up with a secret contract that was signed in 2005 by the Musa administration which extended it to 2020.

The contract had its origin on 11th June, 1998 just days before the General Election. At the time the PUP signed a 10 year contract for the management of the companies registries with an option to renew for another 10 years. In 2003 the then Government’s legal counsel Gian Ghandi wrote to BISL to say that due to changes of circumstances they could no longer get a 10 year renewal. But Musa allowed for business to continue as if nothing. It was not until 24th March of 2005 that the Musa administration secretly extended the contract. An agreement was then signed between the then Prime Minister Said Musa, the Attorney General Francis Fonseca and BISL. This formalized operations of BSIL to continue operations up until 2013. When that contract came to an end GOB wrote to BISL stating that the contract would not be renewed having come to an end on June 10, 2013.

It was then that BISL put forth the secret agreement in which Musa and Foseca had given them further extending the contract up to June 11th, 2020 for a mere 1.5 million dollars. Checks made in Belmopan showed that the government had no copy of the contract and no one had knowledge of it. It was BISL who had to produce the document. At the time, Prime Minister Barrow pointed out that the secret contract was invalid as it violated that Finance and Audit Act, the Financial Orders, the Stores Orders and the control of expenditure handbook.

Since then BISL has taken the matter to the Supreme Court which in October of 2016 had deemed that the contract was indeed illegal.