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HomeNewsArchivesProsser and His Creditors Win a Round in Belize

Prosser and His Creditors Win a Round in Belize

July 10, 2008 — Jeffrey Prosser, former owner and CEO of Innovative Telephone, has won a procedural round in the courts of Belize, the small Central American country where he once sought to control the local monopoly phone company.
This victory is presumably shared with his creditors in ongoing bankruptcy proceedings, as his Belize interests are included with those of his corporations, which are about to be sold to meet his and the corporations' debts.
The background is complex, involving a member of London's House of Lords, two Belizean lawyers named Barrow, a once-secret agreement between the peer and the government of Belize, a change of governments in Belize, the phone company and, of course, Prosser, who used funds associated with Vitelco in an attempt to buy the Belizean phone company.
Prosser failed to come up with an agreed-upon, follow-on payment and lost his control of the company, which is the largest corporation in the small country.
The peer is Lord Michael Ashcroft, former treasurer of Britain's Conservative Party and once again majority owner of the Belize phone company, Belize Telemedia. He also owns the largest bank in the country and one of its two television stations. At one point he sat in the United Nations General Assembly as the representative of Belize.
Ashcroft was an ally of the former prime minister of Belize, Said Mussa, who signed a secret agreement with the peer guaranteeing the phone company's profits. Mussa also caused the passage of legislation that seriously diminished the value of Prosser's minority stake in the phone company.
Mussa was defeated in a national election earlier this year by a party headed by Dean Barrow, an attorney who once represented Prosser in the local courts. Barrow's government is now at loggerheads with Ashcroft over several issues, including $10 million in U.S. funds from the government of Venezuela that wound up in Ashcroft's bank when Barrow thought it should be in the government's coffers.
In Prosser's most recent court case in the Central American nation, he was represented by Lois Young Barrow, ex-spouse of the current prime minister.
Ashcroft's Belize Telemedia had moved in court to liquidate Prosser's Belize Telecom and thus cut off its suit against the government of Belize for passing the law that diminished the value of Prosser's minority holdings in the phone company.
On July 8, Lois Young Barrow successfully argued before Belizean judge John Muria that the liquidation proceedings should be postponed until a decision was reached on Prosser's suit about the constitutionality of the Mussa-passed legislation affecting Prosser's minority shares.
Meanwhile, other aspects of the Prosser vs. Belize controversies are pending in the U.S. District Court in Miami, before the Privy Council in London (the ultimate supreme court for Belize, once a British colony), and in a quiescent international arbitration case in Canada.
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