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Baha Mar should open by the end of this year, says Bahamas Prime Minister

Grand-Hyatt-at-Baha-Mar-P001-Exterior-1280x427Associated Press From Skift

Even if Baha Mar is completed, it’s doubtful it’ll be able meet the lofty goals set forth by its developers any time soon. If anything, Baha Mar will live on as a metaphor for misguided mega-development.
— Deanna Ting

The government of the Bahamas says it has reached an agreement that will lead to the completion of a stalled mega-resort financed and built by Chinese state-owned enterprises.

Prime Minister Perry Christie announced late Monday that China Construction will finish the Baha Mar project with financing from the Export-Import Bank of China. The complex will then be sold to a “world class” hotel and casino operator, he said.

Construction would resume in September and the project will open before the end of the 2016-2017 tourist season, Christie said in a nationally televised address that followed Supreme Court approved of the agreement. He did not identify any potential operators.

“This agreement represents a signal achievement for the Bahamas, and a milestone in the troubled history of Baha Mar,” he said.

Baha Mar is a $3.5 billion project that was initially scheduled to open in December 2014 on 1,000 acres (405 hectares) along Cable Beach in Nassau. It would include four new hotels, a golf course and what would be the largest casino in the Caribbean. After a series of delays and the developer filed for bankruptcy in June 2015.

The stalled project had been expected to increase the overall economy of the tourism-dependent Bahamas by about 12 percent.

Christie said that the agreement to finish and sell Baha Mar will ensure that thousands of Bahamian creditors and contractors will receive a “significant part and possibly all” the money owed to them for their work on the project.


The unopened Grand Hyatt at Baha Mar. The hotel is part of a $3.5-billion project that was supposed to open in December 2014.

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Munroe says Baha Mar secrecy will stop sabotage

Attorney2BWayne2BMunroe-2.2_t670By RASHAD ROLLE From Tribune 242

DEFENDING the Christie administration’s selective disclosure of details concerning Baha Mar, attorney Wayne Munroe said yesterday that temporarily sealing court documents related to the project is important to prevent the original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, from sabotaging the deal either directly or through his “cronies”.

While some expressed joy over Prime Minister Perry Christie’s revelation on Monday that a deal has been struck with the

Export-Import Bank of China with respect to remobilising Baha Mar and getting it open, the administration has come under heavy fire from some for not disclosing key details, not least of which is who is the approved buyer for the resort.

Mr Munroe, QC, who represents the Gaming Board, one of Baha Mar’s creditors, said yesterday that such critics are being “silly”.

“Why would you be outraged?” he asked when contacted by The Tribune. “What information would you need to know right now? You have a former developer, Mr Izmirlian and his cronies who are seeking to be destructive to the process. “He’s broke. He didn’t pay the bank back but he has made moves to try to stall the process. I know this because I’ve done that on behalf of people who were in his position before. Who would disclose information that could adversely affect the deal? A lot of the reasons for sealing the deal are because of the stupid reactions of people like what you’re seeing being said right now.”

Although it is unclear if a buyer has been chosen for Baha Mar, Mr Munroe said the situation remains delicate.

“Let’s put it this way, I could propose to a woman who I select to be my wife, but until we get married it’s not a done deal.”

He added: “The documents are going to be sealed for a time, not forever. This is to ensure that no one sabotages the deal. The courts will seal the documents until in the court’s judgment no malicious person, no foolish person could jeopardise the deal. Let’s remember, the receivers requested that the documents be sealed and they are independent.”

Mr Munroe said in a past case, the Supreme Court sealed documents that prevented his client from viewing details of a deal.

“In the case involving Ocean Place, the tallest building on the eastern end of Paradise Island which involved a sale by receivers, the Supreme Court sealed the evidence there even from my client who was the owner and a party to the case,” he said.

With access to relevant documents, someone could make threats against another party or seek to make a bid at a lower price, he said.

Such threats, he said, could be wide-ranging.

“You never know to what lengths persons will go over matters of such size and money,” he said.

“A deal involving billions takes place in stages. The documents are sealed until the stages are completed and no longer. It is not like buying a $200,000 house. You will see immediately that there are at least three stages to this: remobilisation, payment of Bahamian creditors, opening of the parts of the resort that are finished and completion of the resort. (And) don’t forget that after all buildings are finished they still have to demolish the Crystal Palace.”

As for Mr Izmirlian, he said: “He is clearly someone who has demonstrated an intention to damage the prospects of restoring the project and to damage the Bahamas. His actions speak for himself as does the actions of his cronies and the actions of politicians sympathetic and probably paid by him.”

Mr Munroe said critical reactions to Mr Christie’s announcement spring from the belief that neither the prime minister nor his government can do anything right.

“This desire to say that the government can’t do anything good or is responsible for everything bad has allowed people to complain about something that no sensible person would have a problem with.”

“You can trust the government, knowing that coming this close to an election it will look out for Bahamians.”

However, independent legal observers have laughed off these suggestions by Mr Munroe, who they note is being handsomely paid for his legal services while the property continues to languish. They note that these independent calls for basic information surrounding a purported deal between the Government and the Chinese state should be made public especially as a general election is looming.

“If this is a good deal that is fair to the Bahamian people, then no one can tear it apart. But clearly that is not the case. It is easy for the Government to squash the public’s concerns, and that is for them to be truthful and honest with the Bahamian people for once. Taxpayers have a right know what we have bought with our tax dollars for all those trips back and forth to China. For Mr Munroe to seek to make Sarkis, or anyone else a scapegoat is simply a red herring. This does nothing to quell the desire of countless Bahamians throughout this country to find out the truth about what this incompetent Government has sold us out for,” another legal source added.

Regarding calls for details to be disclosed regarding concessions given to the EXIM Bank, Mr Munroe noted that the government is barred from granting concessions to any investor that are more favourable than what is given to the owners of the Atlantis resort on Paradise Island.

IMAGE: Wayne Munroe

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