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HomeNewsArchivesProsser's Role in Belize May Be Nearing Climax

Prosser's Role in Belize May Be Nearing Climax

March 30, 2005 — The controversy regarding who controls Belize Telecommunications Ltd. may be coming to a climax. Is it Jeffrey Prosser or the Government of Belize (GOB)?
Ongoing court battles in both Miami and Belize continue on this issue, and currently the Belize press reports that there appear to be two sets of boards of directors of the phone company, one Prosser's and the other the government's.
Prosser is president, chairman and chief executive officer of Innovative Communications Corp. parent corporation of the Virgin Islands Telephone Company, known alternately as Vitelco or Innovative Telephone. ICC is one of the largest private employers in the Virgin Islands.
Prosser's lawyers in Miami are seeking to undo the seizure of Belize Telecommunications Ltd. by the Government of Belize which came about when ICC failed, according to GOB, to pay $57 million owed for the commanding block of stock in BTL owned by GOB. Prosser's people replied that ICC was not in default because GOB had not kept its part of the bargain, to change the regulatory climate in Belize in a way favorable to ICC.
The Miami case is an active one, with hearings and decisions seemingly occurring a couple of times a week, and with different reporters seeing them in different lights. Prosser's lawyers, according to the Belize media, seem to winning most of the rounds so far.
For instance on March 24, 7News Belize reported that "Jeffrey Prosser and five directors from ICC are getting ready to come to a BTL board meeting on Tuesday [March 29] to retake control of the company but . . . the much anticipated board meeting may be postponed. That would leave the stage set for a Thursday [March 31] hearing in Miami where both government and ICC will argue over the interpretation of BTL's Articles of Association."
Meanwhile, a rival TV station, News5, reported on the same day "Miami Judge says we're not in contempt" with "we" meaning Belize. Prosser's lawyers are seeking a decision by Judge Ursula Ungaro-Benages that the nation is in contempt of court for failing to turn control of BTL back to Prosser.
News5, which is controlled by Lord Michael Ashcroft, former owner of BTL, continued, "according to the Government of Belize . . . the U.S. district court has ruled that the GOB . . . is . . . in fact free to sell its shares in BTL to Michael Ashcroft . . . "
Lord Ashcroft and GOB, once sparring partners according to Belizean media, now appear to be working together to oust Prosser from control of the Belize phone company.
On Tuesday the headline on News5 was "Two boards claim to run BTL." Its report said: "Jeffrey Prosser's ICC, relying on a U.S. district court order issued Friday, claims to hold a six-two edge on the board of directors. Those U.S. based alleged directors held a meeting today, by conference phone call . . . The Government of Belize, however, disputes this interpretation of the Miami judge's ruling, claiming that her decision allowed the GOB to combine with other shareholders to elect four directors, thus creating a board deadlocked four-four."
The News5 report continued: "Prosser wrote . . . to Prime Minister Said Musa, giving him until the end of the day [Tuesday, March 29] to simply answer whether he will comply with the Miami court order . . . failing the receipt of an acceptable answer, Prosser will on Thursday seek a contempt ruling from the Miami Judge, a ruling which [Lanny] Davis, [a Prosser lawyer] says will prove financially and politically embarrassing to the Belize Government."
GOB, while simultaneously fighting the case in Miami, has also appealed to the Supreme Court of Belize which has ruled that the Miami court's decisions are "unenforceable" in Belize, despite the fact that GOB had, according to press reports, voluntarily submitted itself to the jurisdiction of the Miami court.

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