December 8, 2008 Leave a comment
Former Belize Prime Minister Said Musa is declaring his innocence in the face of a charge that he stole US$10 million which the Venezuela government had given his administration to build and repair homes for poor citizens.
Mr Musa appeared in court yesterday accused of illegally diverting the money, half of a US$20 million grant, to a privately owned hospital. He was released on US$100,000 bail and ordered to reappear in court on January 9 next year. If convicted of the charge, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term.
But Mr Musa has insisted that he did nothing wrong, saying that he was acting in good faith when he used the funds to settle a debt owed by Universal Health Services (UHS).
He has been embroiled in controversy surrounding the grant, given by the Hugo Chavez Administration in December last year, since his People’s United Party lost the government to Dean Barrow and his United Democratic Party in the February 7 general elections.
The former prime minister had said earlier this year that the debt he used the money to pay arose out of a government guarantee of a loan made by UHS and had been the subject of litigation that could have resulted in the Belize government having to pay the entire sum due from taxpayer funds.
Following a directive from the country’s Central Bank, the money was returned to the government coffers from the Belize Bank which received the funds to clear the UHS debt.
Recent statements from Prime Minister David Thompson on millions stashed in overseas accounts by BLP members have yet to materialised, confrimed and the wheels of justice rolling.
Waiting to exhale can be a painful process.