There is an apparent disagreement among
some shareholders of the Citrus Products of
Belize Limited (CPBL) over who should be
appointed as the new auditors.
And this is causing a prolonged delay in the
company being audited.
A signed letter by 13 of the shareholders
dated December 31, 2013, and addressed
to Gary King, chairman of Banks Holdings
Limited (BHL) and director of the CPBL, said
despite a unanimous decision by shareholders
present at an extraordinary general (EGM)
meeting held on December 20, to appoint
a new audit firm for the 2012-2013 fiscal
year, the process to implement the decision
continued to be “frustrated”.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained
by Barbados TODAY, said “the resulting
delays in the appointment of the new auditors
places the company at significant risk with
It said the shareholders present at the
EGM, which represented approximately 53
per cent of the issued and outstanding shares
of the company, “unanimously approved the
appointment of Baker Tilly Hulse as the new
auditors of the company for the fiscal year
ended September 30, 2013”.
The audit fee was BZ$160,000 compared
with the “standard fee” of BZ159,300 from
the previous auditor.
It was advised that the completion and
provision of audited financial statements was
a formal requirement as per the terms and
conditions of banking facilities granted by the
CPBL bankers, and that the company was
“obliged to provide those to the commercial
banks by December 31, 2013”.
The letter said the EGM was held to
complete and approve the appointment of the
new auditors to ensure the implementation
and commencement of the audit engagement
“as early as possible in January”.
The letter said: “We look forward to
the full facilitation of Baker Tilly Hulse
immediately commencing the audit of the
company for 2012-2013 fiscal year”.
However, a response from King said it was
“established” by the corporate secretary of
CPBL that the EGM was not properly called
and therefore “no such meeting existed”.
In an email dated January 21, 2014, a
representative of the Orange Growers
Trust, Anthony Chanona explained to
King that the EGM was convened after
CPBL board of directors were “overheard
in much discussion” as to the merits of a
recommendation for a change in its auditors.
Chanona said: “The citrus industry of
Belize and the livelihood of hundreds of citrus
growers is being held hostage, once again, to
a fruit payment insecurity; this time by this
cavalier position of a BHL director”.
“This action of choice by the BHL
directors on the CPBL board not to
acquiesce to execute a constitutional vote
by the owners of this company of their
decision to have appointed new auditors and
have completed CPBL’s audit is wrong by
any standard of moral decency and ethical
behaviour. I hope to persevere to have this
matter addressed and resolved. So help me
God,” said Chanona.
However, in his response King said he
could only “reaffirm BHL’s position” to a
tender process in order to appoint an auditor.
He said it would be “irresponsible for anyone
to agree to changing the auditor regardless to
the ramifications, without first ensuring that a
qualified competitive alternative existed”.
King said given the alternatives in Belize,
excluding the incumbent from the process
would place CPBL in a “price-taking position”.
He said it appeared that “someone is
[determined] to have BTH favoured”
and that “pre-disposition” was now
a cause for “concern to BHL as a
He gave the assurance however,
that BHL was “agreeable to either PKF or
BTH being the auditor based on the most
competitive quote”. (MM)