Landmark Decision Protecting Privacy
Belize Court Makes Landmark - Decision Protecting Privacy
Belize City, Friday, January 20, 1995
In a landmark decision asserting Belize's sovereignty as an offshore financial jurisdiction, the Supreme Court of Belize upheld
the country's confidentiality laws by revoking a previous court order set in motion by the Securities and Exchange Commission of
the United States requesting that confidential documents, belonging to Swiss Trade and Commerce Trust, Ltd., be handed over
In the case, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) vs. Swiss Trade and Commerce Trust, Ltd., Banner Fund International,
Lloyd Winburn et al, Supreme Court Justice Troadio Gonzalez ruled that documents held by the Belize court belonging to Swiss
Trade and sought by the SEC, be immediately returned to Swiss Trade and Commerce Trust, Ltd.
Lawyers for Swiss Trade said that what this means for Belize is that this aspect of confidentiality, which is an important feature of
the offshore industry, has been upheld. "What this means is that any party who seeks to destroy the concept of confidentiality
would have to contend with our system, which has demonstrated its ability to uphold the relevant laws," Attorney Oscar Sabido
The decision is expected to have major international repercussions as the world financial community looks to Belize and its new
offshore services industry. "It is certainly a shot in the arm of the offshore industry because of the fact that it is an industry which is
just beginning," Sabido said. A country's ability to assert its sovereignty without the interference of outside forces is a major
deciding factor in choosing a place to invest and protect personal property.
When asked for his comment related to the decision, Lloyd Winburn, Director of Swiss Trade & Commerce Trust, Ltd., in Belize,
stated, "The Court's decision confirms our reasons for establishing our company in Belize originally. The Law related to
confidentiality has been tested and found to be not lacking clarity and strength. Any other ruling by the Court would have sent a
signal throughout the financial world that Belize could not be trusted to protect assets, provide confidentiality of transactions or
otherwise serve the needs of those who seek to do business away "From their home jurisdiction."
The decision clearly shows that the SEC stepped out of bounds in trying to obtain confidential information, the matter having
been urged on both sides by learned Queen's Council.
The case arose after the SEC [bureaucrats] appeared at Swiss Trade's office on March 3, 1994 with the expectation that they
would be able to just take the files and leave the country with them, with no regard whatever to Belizean law. The quick reaction of
company employees prevented any further disregard for the law on the part of the SEC [terrocrats] and their Belizean lawyer,
Eamon Courtenay, who previously had been the lawyer for Swiss Trade.