Home News Local news Prosser Wins Latest Ruling Over Stake in Belize Phone Company

Prosser Wins Latest Ruling Over Stake in Belize Phone Company

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Oct. 27, 2006 — Jeffrey Prosser, owner of the V.I. Telephone Co. (Vitelco), has won another round in the Belize courts regarding Prosser's control of two seats on the board of Belize Telephone Limited (BTL), the country's local telephone monopoly. However, the significance of the court's ruling is far from clear.
The Belize Court of Appeals, according to Belize media, this week refused to issue a stay that would have suspended the effect of an earlier lower court decision on behalf of Prosser that had rejected a Belize government action depriving Prosser of two seats on the BTL board.
Prosser had years earlier secured two seats on the board of BTL when the Belize government sold a "special share" to Prosser for $1 — a share controlling two seats on BTL's eight-member board.
Prosser, one-time operator of BTL, lost control when he failed to make a payment that would have sealed his ownership of the firm.
What is clear is that BTL continues to be managed by the forces of British entrepreneur Lord Michael Ashcroft. According to reports, the Belize government has not decided whether to appeal the current decision to Belize's highest court, that of the law lords in London. (A former British colony, Belize is one of several such ex-colonies that uses the law lords — formally known as the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council — as its court of last resort.)
Regarding the significance of the latest ruling, this is what Channel Five News, which is owned by Ashcroft, had to say:
"As to what today's ruling means for the future of BTL, one would think that the old Prosser-led board would just step back in at company headquarters on St. Thomas Street … But when it comes to making predictions in this grudge match, all bets are off. The Michael Ashcroft-dominated board at BTL managed to dodge an injunction against holding the company's annual general meeting last month, and with Prosser poised to file a contempt action, it appears that he and the British billionaire are talking, with an eye to Ashcroft buying out Prosser's minority shares. If so, today's ruling may give the beleaguered American wheeler-dealer a little bit more leverage in the negotiations. "
Prosser and the Belize government are also locked in legal battles in Atlanta, Ga., and in Toronto. Just how this latest Belize decision will impact those lawsuits remains to be seen.
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