Saturday, January 25, 2014

Belize Airport Authority Checks Are a Mixed Bag, About 30% Tied To Hon. Edmund Castro

Last night we laid out 76 checks from the Belize Airport Authority from a whistle-blower who alleges that all 76 were issued at the request of Minister of State in the Ministry of Transport Edmund Castro. But, two sides to every story, and we today spoke to a board member who preferred to remain anonymous.

First to the checks - 10 of them issued to Jafari Castro - Edmund Castro's son. They were issued in amounts of less than 300 dollars between February and April, 2013 and total $2,240 dollars. Well, 7News managed to speak with a BAA board member today who told us that Jafari Castro worked at the Airports Authority before he left for school and those were his paychecks.

And what about the check for Norman Middleton - Edmund Castro's driver? Well, the board member says he was paid 300 dollars to clean off the Belize City Municipal runway when it was flooded over.

UDP soldier Omar Burns had also been contracted to keep the runways clean, but when that contract was given to Castro's friend Cutbert Bailey, Burns was paid a termination fee of six thousand dollars. The paper trail shows Bailey is paid a regular fee to maintain the runways of about two thousand per month.

And that other UDP soldier, Allan Kelly? He got paid three hundred dollars - the board member says to sponsor a basketball team. The check for Ordonez Bike Shop was also a BAA donation - but this one for Castro's Cycling team, the Board member explains. The checks  for CDS Gas company - the board member says those are for the Airports Authority - which purchases fuel there and did not involve Castro.

The Airports Authority is also claiming responsibility for the checks  for Bowen and Bowen and Caribbean Chicken - which total some 13 thousand dollars. Those were, we are told, for evens that the BAA hosted.

Same for the checks to a travel agency and a car dealership - BAA expenses in their own right according to the board member. And the 4,200 dollars paid to Cellular Plus - that was for a laptop computer the Airports authority bought, again in its own right - apparently a very expensive one - like two times the price of what we'd call a higher end model on the local market.

The BAA - in its dubious discretion - also undertook - again in its own right - to pay the dentist's bill - two thousand dollars plus for a board member's child.

Same for a long list of names who received small amounts - a few hundred dollars - all those were - we are told "underprivileged children" who needed educational assistance. They were, the board member insists, not recommended to the BAA by Castro.

There are also checks  to schools - again educational assistance which the BAA gave - according to the board member - in its own right. There are a total of 17 checks for what the board members tell us are educational assistance paid to individuals or to schools - a few of them at Castro's request.

The largest check is for sixteen thsoqaund dollars, and the board member says that was the mobilization fee for the fence built at the PG Airstrip.

We could continue, but you get the idea - the Board member is saying that of the 76 checks - about 27 are directly related to Castro - three of them paid out directly to him to a total of 10,156 dollars.


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