Friday, February 21, 2014ImageImage

Workers at the Golden Princess Casino located near the northern border of Belize were informed that as of today they will not have a job to report to because the casino is closing its operation in Belize.

According to a worker at the Casino, they were told that the Casino has been operating at a loss and therefore has gone bankrupt. But sources in the know say – that is far from the truth.

On Wednesday, February 5th the House of Representative held an emergency meeting to amend and pass four important bills. They are the Money Laundering and Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Bill; the Financial Intelligence Unit (Amendment) Bill 2014; the Domestic Banks and Financial Institutions (Amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2014. Unlike the usual rancor that characterizes house meetings, where the “banking transparency legislations” were concerned, there was no sparring. The Opposition agreed even though they said that they didn’t like the bills.

 “The reality is that we have to comply, but the more we comply, the more the standards continue to change, and in a sense, there is never satisfaction, and inevitably, in my view, it will lead to the complete undermining of the offshore sector. But, the reality is that we must comply for the protection and preservation of our banking sector,” Leader of the Opposition Francis Fonseca said while speaking on the bills.

“ I completely agree with the Leader of the Opposition,” Prime Minister Barrow said. “ He’s perfectly correct. We have long been complaining, and it is very discouraging. These people say this is all in an effort to achieve a greater transparency, to stop trans-national crimes and that these things are necessary to preserve our democratic way of life. But, they’re going so far, that for small countries such as ours, some of their measures are actually going to result in retarding our democracy,” Prime Minister Barrow said.

The new laws present several issues for Belize’s financial industry which does include casinos. That industry is said to have a dark side beyond its glitz, glamour and flashing lights. The casino business, it is said is a haven money launderers and human traffickers and other trans-national crimes. The new laws are more stringent and require casino owners (in this case) and their investors to declare their personal information. This quite possibly is one factor that might have chased off the casino’s operators in the north, observers tell NBZLive.

Sources also say that the casino is simply migrating across the border to Mexico where pastures are greener and that the facility is being put up for sale. The asking price, we are told is $55 Million BZD.

According to the casino’s website, they have two hundred workers in their employ. Sixty workers were reportedly laid off and the others were greeted with the news when they arrived for work this morning. The impending close-down was rumored about two months ago however somehow the management were able to keep it secret from their employees. We have been unable to confirm what compensation settlement if any has been reached with the workers.