Thu | Feb 20, 2020

Belize bribery saga

Published:Thursday | February 13, 2020 | 12:26 AM

BELMOPAN, Belize (CMC):

Prime Minister Dean Barrow on Wednesday placed his national security minister, John Saldivar, on “indefinite suspension” and demanded his resignation as the leader-elect of the ruling United Democratic Party (UDP) amid allegations linking him to a bribery scandal involving an imprisoned American businessman dating back to 2013.

In a radio and television broadcast following a lengthy emergency Cabinet meeting, Barrow said that the suspension would allow for both the government and the police to fully investigate the allegations made during the ongoing trial of the American, Lev Dermen, in the United States.

Barrow said he had earlier warned that any minister implicated in the matter would be dismissed but that Saldivar had continued to maintain his innocence.

“I said in Cabinet at the time and later at a press conference that any minister subsequently proven indeed to have taken money and, therefore, to have lied to Cabinet would have to leave the Cabinet.

“... That time has, unfortunately, come,” Barrow said.

Following his election last Sunday as the UDP leader, Saldivar has consistently denied receiving any bribe in the past.

“I’ve always said that I am not guilty of any wrongdoing,” he said.