It started as a private project in 2006 under the name Cinnamon 88 Ltd and through the years morphed to Clearwater Bay Ltd a company registered to do business in 2010. The project has straddled both administrations starting with the late David Thompson and now rest uneasily with the incumbent Mottley who was a legal advisor to the failed project while in opposition. An interesting side note – Avinash Persaud also played a role and would have assisted in him being able to drive the luxury sports car he zips .
We fast forward to the recent 2021 Auditor General report with the following note on Clearwater Bay Ltd can be found.
In my 2018 and 2020 Reports, I indicated that there were some concerns surrounding the accounting treatment of a loan guarantee made by the Government of Barbados through its’ company, Clearwater Bay Limited in the sum of $120 million. This guarantee was in relation to the construction of the proposed Four Seasons managed hotels and villas. The sum of $120 million had appeared in the books of the Government as a receivable for a number of years but was completely written off in 2018. I had previously indicated that enough information was not provided to my Office as to the nature of the arrangement between Clearwater Bay Limited and the developers. I also stated that, in any event, the entire $120 million should not be written off since the lands on which the project was being built were valuable; instead the value in the accounts should be written down rather than to be completely written off.
Based on information made available to my Office, Clearwater Bay held a mortgage over the real property and after the loan was called, Government was required to honor its guarantee and a payment of $124.3 million was paid to the bank. Action was then taken by the Government company to recover the monies expended through a sale of the property.
In respect of the sale of the property, a review of the records at the Land Registry Department indicates that the property has been conveyed to a private company. However, there is no evidence of consideration being paid. Matters surrounding the sale and ownership of this property are complicated and is currently the subject of litigation which is ongoing.
The Four Seasons Project – Story of Failure continues to be an example of how the public continues is short changed by public officials elected and recruited to serve us. The inability of taxpayers to solicit answers to legitimate questions regarding the quality of decisions made by successive governments is an embarrassment to the type of democracy we should be aspire. This has to be a significant contributing factor to the social dysfunction we have been reminded by the Trojan Riddims video affair – see How De Yutes Get So?. Officialdom expresses righteous indignation at a group of artistes for violating public morals of the country, however, successive governments and public servants have been unable to defend malfeasance, financial indiscipline highlighted in years of Auditor General (AG) reports. It is surprising local calypsonians hasvenever penned a title ‘politicians laughing at we’. The Paradise 88, Four Seasons, Clearwater Bay issue suggest there is opportunity for another title, ‘public servants also laughing at we’.
Some took umbrage to the call by BU that some public servants should be fired for unresolved issues highlighted in years of AG reporting- see 2020 Auditor General Report – Time to Fire Senior Public Servants. Yesterday AG Leigh Trotman was quoted in the press calling for tougher legislation to force public servants to comply with requests for information to complete audits. A decade of AG reports and not one person handed over to the justice system for processing. Not a single public servant sacked. As we prepare to convert to a Republic meant to solidify people power, it begs the question – why are senior public servants betraying the trust of the PEOPLE?
The Four Seasons matter is a classic case of the cloak of secrecy zealously guarded by politicians AND public servants. How on earth can a government incorporate Clearwater Bay Limited, appoint directors who are public servants with a fiduciary responsibility to citizens of Barbados, yet, feel comfortable guarding the interest of politicians and the money class? These public servants must be held accountable.
Although the AG is constrained to audit public sector business, it should not be forgotten the other signature on public agreements is often times a private sector player. The company Clearwater Bay Ltd had oversight over the transaction which led to the following comment by the AG:-
The treatment of the investment in Clearwater Bay needs to be further explained. The investment in this government-owned company was recorded at a value of $124 million investment in prior years. It represented an investment by Clearwater in the Four Seasons Hotel project. The value of this investment remained unchanged on the books of government for several years even though the property on which the investment was based was significantly impaired.
Leigh Trotman, Auditor General
The part of the AG’s comment (highlighted) taxpayers should be concerned about is that public servants who sat on the Board of Clearwater Bay as directors have been complicit in the ‘cover-up’. Many, if not all of the directors are considered respectable citizens of Barbados and competent public servants. The meetings of Clearwater are recorded in board books and should be available to the public. Unfortunately the public does not have the avenue of Freedom of Information legislation to activate an important check and balance in our system of government, this should not be necessary if the public servants serving as directors of Clearwater protected the public’s interest they are ethically required to do.
The most recent Auditor General Report – see 2020 Auditor General Report – Time to Fire Senior Public Servants – continues to generate the usual concerns engaged annually by the general public. Although it must be said there is more impatience being exercised this time around if the blogmaster has tested the temperature of debate correctly. Is it because of the unprecedented mandate given to the Mottley led government in 2018? The promises made during the last general election platform certified by hints of documents secreted in the Red Bag that officials known to have engaged in criminal acts and flouting of government’s financial rules will be held accountable? members of the public rightly (or wrongly) have set high expectation that Mottley will turn the table and tackle malfeasance in the public sector once and for all. Knowing that it takes two hands to clap one can reasonably expect private sector players will be in the frame as well were she to lead Project Corruption Clean Up.
Three years later and it is business as usual on the rock with Minister in the ministry of finance Ryan Straughn still promising that the government is probing malfeasance highlighted by the Auditor General’s recent report.
Two issues caught the attention of the blogmaster yesterday (7 Jun 2021). Minister Straughn admitted the Clearwater Bay Limited (Four Seasons) file has not been digitized and therefore he would have to review said file to be able to respond to a question about the total of the project-to-date lending by government. The other is the alleged $124 million reportedly written off by government.
BU commenter Artax offered the following comment on another blog to explain the $124 million.
Therefore, the people of Barbados have a right to know where the money has gone? And why was this investment valued at $124 million written off.
Verla De Peiza – Leader of the Democratic Labour Party
It’s either Verla De Peiza has conveniently lost her memory or opposing just for the sake of opposing.
Paradise Beach Ltd. secured an 18 month, US$60M (BD$120,000,000) loan from ANSA Merchant Bank, at an interest rate of 6.75%, for the purpose of ‘restarting’ construction of Four Seasons Resort.
The former DLP administration agreed to guarantee the loan in return for a 20% stake in the project.
Paradise Beach Ltd. defaulted on the loan and ‘government,’ as guarantor, had to repay the outstanding amount and interest in the amount of $124,329,766.
Verla was a GOVERNMENT SENATOR when the ARRANGEMENTS were made between the former DLP administration, Paradise Beach Ltd. and ANSA Merchant Bank.
Why is Verla De Peiza saying “the people of Barbados have a right to know where the money has gone,” when, according to Chapter 2, pages 25-26 of the 2016 Auditor General’s report:
This amount ($124,329,766) was subsequently brought to book in the accounts of the Treasury as an account receivable. There has been no movement on this receivable account for the past four (4) years.” [2.49]
There is NO information available on whether there might be a need to write down this receivable or WHEN or HOW THIS AMOUNT will be REPAID. [2.49]
2020 Auditor General Report
Did the former administration use tax payers’ money to guarantee a loan for Paradise Beach Ltd., without negotiating the necessary arrangements to recover the funds, if the company reneged on its commitment to repay?
From whom or what company would the former or current administration recover the outstanding debt, especially if Paradise Beach Ltd. is defunct?
How can one deem $124,329,766 to be ‘missing,’ when the amount has remained on the ‘books’ and uncollected for ‘several years’………. and ‘yuh doan know who to collect it from?’
“…will we DEMAND our parliamentary representatives provide us with answers to the Four Seasons debacle?…”
Yes this is the crux of the matter [forget Hyatt for now Miller]. Former Ministers Sealy and Sincklair are both on the record promising explanations before their terms ended. Persaud was involved not only as the guru, but he was also a director of companies associated with the project. I “believe” as a lawyer, MAM was also involved with companies linked to the project. The government vehicle to back loans, one Clearwater Bay hasn’t been heard of, since the Pharliciple story on BU.
Similarly, all these foreign millionaires who had reportedly put up millions for villas, have been quiet. The project is an eyesore.
A Nation report of 19 July 2010 confirmed that it was the late Prime Minister David Thompson “who sought economist Avinash Persaud’s help in getting the stalled Four Seasons project going after the original developers failed three times to secure private financing to restart the tourism and residential facility“.
In another Nation report on 10 March 2011 Opposition leader Mia Mottley at the time was referred to as “the Queen’s Counsel (QC), who is representing Four Seasons in her capacity as an attorney-at-law”. The same report mentioned her support for a USD60 million (Guarantee of Loan) Bill which was necessary to to pay off creditors.
Why has the BU blogmaster resurrected this matter?
Since the 2011 report Mia Mottley has become the Prime Minister of Barbados. Since the 2010 report Avinash has become a senior consultant to the Mottley led government of Barbados on economic matters.
Sometimes is it unnecessary to be prolix on certain matters. Yardfowls will respond based on the scripts given them from Roebuck Street and George Street. This is expected if yardfowls are to earn the title. The free thinkers will be able to connect the dots.
As a people we have allowed ourselves to become trapped in the Faustian offers of the modern politician. We have forgotten who is serving whom. We have created a monster. The change must begin with the man in the mirror. The democratic system to which we abide holds the citizen marking the x on the ballot accountable!
There come a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation – W.C Fields
treasonous offenses are considered especially heinous.
In Barbados, the dedicated detectives who investigate these
vicious felonies are members of an elite squad
known as the Task Force.
This must be one of their stories.”
Adapted from Law and Order
If Barbados was a properly functioning democracy, in light of the revelation on the front page of The Sunday Sun 4th March, 2018, that the Four Seasons property had been sold to Jada Construction; the Attorney General of Barbados would have announced and held a press conference the next day to inform all Barbadians that he would be investigating this matter. We have not heard a squeak from him and the entire Democratic Labour Party is silent. This is such a grave matter that even though Parliament has dissolved one would have expected him to say something.
The matter in which Jada Construction now holds the conveyance for the Four Seasons Property is not an allegation. By now, the entire island has seen the front page of the conveyance document on the front page of the Sunday sun and most likely seen and read the entire document that was featured on the Barbados Undergroundtwo weeks previously on February 20, 2018. There is therefore physical evidence for the entire world to see.
The property was conveyed to Jada Construction on December 19th, 2014 and received and recorded at the Land Registry on March 10th 2015. They are several attorneys at law whose names are on this document and therefore are familiar with the particulars of the conveyance and or sale of the property. Namely, M. Adrian King of Inn Chambers , Lucas street Bridgetown, Annette Yvonne Linton of Briar Hall in Christ Church and Theodore David Gittens of the Rock, St. Peter.
Attorney General is responsible to the Crown, the Courts, the legislature, the executive branch of government but his constitutional responsibility is beyond that of a political minister.
This is the man whose duty among others it is to uphold to Constitution of Barbados, to create laws when they are lacking and to prevent over reach when laws are found to be infringing on the rights of citizens. He is supposed to uphold the conscience of the land that determines what is right from what is wrong. He is also the guardian of the public interest and that includes all tax payers of Barbados.
It leads one to believe that this man never understood what his role is and therefore he could never function in it. His action or lack of action in this matter would not surprise many due to his lack luster performance during his entire tenure of Attorney General. Adriel Brathwaite should have stamped his authority as attorney general with the Integrity Legislation and the Freedom of Information Act to instill the required behaviors of all parliamentarians if they were lacking and reinforcing that they were not above the law. Alas, there has been no accountability or transparency on his watch.
If this was done, he would have been in a position to have demanded the resignation of the Speaker of the House, Michael Carrington when he stole the funds of a wheel chair bound pensioner. He would have insisted Michael Lashley, the then Minister of Housing be fired when it was discovered that he had purposely relayed incorrect information from the Cabinet as well as deliberately altered communication from the Cabinet.
Yet Mr. Brathwaite stood up to justify why a police officer who with intent shot and killed a man was allowed bail. We therefore know that he knows how to selectively use his voice.
His position as Attorney General makes him more than complicit to the sale if he says or does nothing about it. Both the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Tourism are on record providing information which was futurist in nature of a pending sale when the conveyance and or sale had taken place three years previously.
Although Mr. Brathwaite swore an oath to become the Attorney General and uphold the Constitution of Barbados, his actions or lack thereof speaks otherwise. It tells us that he believes that politicians are above the law; that there is one law for the Greeks and another for the Medes. Given this track record, he would have to be a man without a conscience when he asks the people of St. Philip to reelect him again because he has done nothing to uphold Constitution especially with regard to the matter at hand.
Then there is the matter of the missing money, $US60m which the government borrowed from the NIS to repay the ANSA Mcal loan when it was called and now the $US 60m that is mentioned on the Conveyance that Jada Construction now has in its possession. No record can be found of the tender for the sale of the property neither was it advertised in the local press. Hence there has been a breech in the financial rules of the government of Barbados. Neither of these two sums of money has been accounted for at the NIS or in the case of the latter as having entered the Treasury or was reported as revenue earned in the estimates of 2015, 2016 or 2017. However, the latter was recorded by the Auditor General as a receivable in one of his recent reports.
By default, the Attorney General is guilty of dereliction of his duties. The Minister of Finance has lied to Parliament and denied the transaction when the press asked him about it; the Minister of Tourism also lied to the people of Barbados. In my opinion both of them have implicated themselves in this matter of funds missing from the public purse. The people have seen tangible evidence of a conveyance and the Democratic Labour Party Administration is deadly silent. This matter can only be classified as treason because they have betrayed the country. In another time, those guilty of such crimes would be hung, beheaded or quartered. In today’s terms one can easily justify a 25 years to life sentence.
The following exchanges took place between Chairman of the NIS Dr. Justin Robinson and BU Blogmaster on Facebook Group FB Senate, a group administered by Senator John Watson. What was debunked by Chairman Robinson is that the NIS approved a USD60 million dollar facility that was utilized for the Paradise (Four Seasons project). The Chairman further confirmed that the NIS is exposed to the Paradise (Four Seasons project) the amount of 13 million dollars owed by government. The expectation is that the NIS will be paid from the proceeds of the sale of Paradise to JADA for USD60 million dollars
Chairman Justin Robinson for the sake of transparency where does the NIS sit in this latest revelation? “Barbadians need answers on this Four Season sale.
How was the sale brokered? Was it done through the former executive chairmen of Paradise Limited Professor Avinash Persaud who was head hunted specifically for the task by the late Prime Minister David Thompson? Was the sale brokered after Professor Persaud left the Paradise organisation? Was the sale brokered before or after the IADB withdrew their funding for the restart of the Four Seasons project? Was the sale of the property advertised publicly, far and wide, locally and internationally as is the case with the Harlequin property at Merricks? Were bids for the property invited by open tender or was it put only to a select group of potential investors/buyers? Are there any finders’ fees involved for the party/parties who brokered the deal with Jada?
These are questions that Barbadians need to have answered. Clearwater Bay is a government owned and taxpayer funded company which is party to the sale. Recall that a US$60 million guarantee was provided by Clearwater Bay through resolution of Parliament which was eventually called by Ansa Merchant Bank.
What is the final cost to taxpayers for this? The net proceeds of the sale will be less than the US$60 million due to attorneys’ fees, duties etc.
Is the Barbadian taxpayer burdened with a loss as a result of government having getting involved in a private sector project????”
Justin Robinson the NIS is on the hook for 13ml. One of the more controversial decisions in my time. I am still.of the view that if all that could be done had been done to get that project restarted at the time we could have avoided years of economic decline.
Philip F. Corbin ‘NIS on the hook for $13M’ …..is that the balance of a loan given to Govt or Is it a shortfall in NIS contributions ? US$60M flowed into Govt in 2016 so why has NIS not been paid up to the year 2018 ?
David King Dr. Robinson to be clear, you are saying that NIS is only exposed for 13 million that was invested in the project. And that the 60 million facility was never drawn down. Are you also saying that with the sale no arrangement to formally address the NIS was made a condition of the sale?
Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler updated Barbadians in November 2014 that the Paradise deal was very close to being finalized – “…new equity partners have been found and are now doing their due diligence and once that exercise is completed, they too will sign up. Once that happens, Government will then be repaid its resources, and the project can get started shortly after that…”. In the absence of confirmation Barbadians remain hopeful this is the case.
Dr. David Estwick, a key performer on the campaign platform for the DLP
The political temperature is rising in Barbados about one year after the last general election was held. At a time when Barbadians would have wanted the political directorate to seek solace in the attribute Barbados is well known – a politically stable country – we have Minister David Estwick adding unwanted political diatribe to the debate. This is how it appears so far anyway.
If Barbadians are expected to entertain the huffing and puffing from Estwick for what seems to be the umpteenth time, BU hopes he addresses the following at his constituency branch meeting tomorrow. BU understands the Barbados government has made a deal with a company to restart the Four Seasons project. The terms of the deal from a source states that JADA will be the exclusive contractor. From all reports JADA is alleged to be in the process of forming a number of small companies to distribute the work to respond to the public outcry which is bound to come a la Coverly Housing project.
The other matter we want Estwick to clarify is the suggestion he is being pressured by a member of the deep pocket class to back off. In fact we understand he is being offered millions of dollars. Is this true Minister David Estwick?
You will probably think I am flogging a dead horse; but since PURE Beach Resort has all the signs of being a dead horse, here goes anyway. I happened on a new PURE Beach YouTube video posted recently. It is simply a new and expanded version of previous 3D renderings. There is also an October 2013 investor presentation. Clearly the promoters are still active flogging PURE Beach to unsophisticated “investors”.
I was going to post a comment to one of the BU Harlequin blogs but thought it might not get much attention because the original post was too long for BU readers to take the time to read and digest. In your opening comment to the original blog you said the local press has since highlighted this matter. There having been no further reporting in the local media, I think it timely to resurrect the matter. I believe that you referred to the September 4 story in Barbados Today $500M snag: Luxury St. Philip tourism/residential project delayed by financial problems.
I recently also came across the original message from the management of Pure Beach Resort & Spa assuring their “founding members” the venture remains “attractive and viable” and that new joint venture partners were coming on board and additional sources of funding being secured”; which had apparently been leaked to Barbados Today and was the basis of its story. An April 24, 2013, letter to Dear Founding Members is posted on the website of M. Montgomery Insurance, of Bradford, Ontario.
When people don’t make use of their history, they are bound to repeat mistakes. Recall the Battle of Waterloo, think for one moment how Napoleon would fall for a similar Wellington’s ploy of deception, and engage a third of his French infantry on a pedestrian bridge that led to nowhere? Obviously not, once bitten twice shy. We should always learn from our mistakes or we doomed to repeat them. The great Napoleon would.
Recall another famous general Hannibal,… think he would ever consider marching his army of ten million elephants and men, into the Alps in the near winter months regardless how lucrative the potential outcome? Doubtful indeed. We have the Greeks and the Trojan Horse, yet another to proffer. History is loaded with great men falling to mistakes while reaching for superior possibilities. Less we forget “All that glitters is not gold, often is the weary traveller told.”
We all at sometime make mistakes (to err is human), but we should at all cost avoid repeating them regardless of circumstance, no matter the potential outcomes. Beware of bearers of fine gifts, remember the dog and the bone. A bird in hand is worth three in the bush. The people of Black Rock and its echelons would surely sanctify that, as for them while streets promised were to be paved with gold… Paradise Lost was never re-found, all left was a debauched Four Seasons. A real bad omen that, when a leprechaun smell can be sniffed back to one man.
Local multi millionaire rumoured to be taking over the ‘blighted’ Four Seasons project – Click to read tender on the sale of Four Seasons Property
It is good to read about government’s effort to wrestle the Four Seasons beast to the ground – finally. It maybe tactical to have placed the tender in this weekend’s press which is sure to go unnoticed by many Barbadians who are gearing up to party in the last lap for Crop Over 2013.
All discerning Barbadians look forward to full disclosure promised by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on this matter. Until he does Barbadians will begin to speculate about whether Ansa Merchant Bank has called the $120 million guarantee and the implication. It seems like a long time ago the late David Thompson went to parliament to validate the Clearwater Barbados Guarantee which was meant to kickstart the project. The media has reported the tender is meant to give the appearance of transparency. Given government’s hands-on approach to managing the project, it begs the question whither Project Manager and Chairman Avinash Persaud who was requested by the late David Thompson to retrieve the project?
Opposition MP questioned Paradise Beach Limited project during the Estimates
Barbadians welcomed the revelation by Opposition member of parliament Ronald Toppin that two Paradise Beach Limited bond holders had to be paid by government to the tuned of BBD120 million. There was also the view that government’s haste to dump its minority holdings in the former Barbados National Bank, now Republic Bank, was to ‘shield’ this transaction in the wash.
What Toppin’s intervention did was to force Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler to issue a clarification statement. BU understands the MoF’s explanation concerning the need to protect sensitive discussions by honouring non disclosure agreements. We also have applied similar understanding to the CLICO and Barrack transactions. Hell we understand why we the TAXPAYERS should not be told one damn thing. Those of us who understand the ramifications of the pending decisions will continue to live in hope that we will be told how a few people in smoked fill rooms will guide our future as well as our offspring.
In light of the Toppin revelation that government had to honour an obligation to two bond holders, how does this position the Barbados government? Can we draw a conclusion that the Barbados Government – or we the people – are owners of what use to be a picturesque piece of property at Black Rock?
In the coming days leading up to the General Election – to be held on the 21 February 2013 – BU will be raising issues which we hope will be ventilated and explained on the campaign trail. The first is the vexing issue of the stalled Four Seasons project which has been forced from the public eye because of the CLICO and Alexandra issues among others.
It is fair to say that for most Barbadians the inability of all concerned to restart the Four Seasons project remains a big concern. BU believes the project is now suffering from a crisis of confidence. It is no secret the Barbados economy is a beast which must be fed forex to sustain itself. That it would take as long as it has to restart the project – harsh economic conditions notwithstanding – challenges our ability to prioritize and manage the issues.
The news coming from Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler last week that the government will be issuing a good news update about the project very soon is being eagerly awaited. The usually loquacious Avinash Persaud has been persuaded to defer to government making the announcement, possibly at tomorrow night’s mass political meeting at Bay Street.
Money spends like water when you are in government, after all it is not yours. You don’t have to account for it far less pay it back. Imagine a metallic claptrap spawning the highway by BET head office building costing $255,000 ? A real dignified stop light sign ….money burnt and burnt well… or a $500,000 Citizen Inauguration ceremony, including the bringing back of a stalwart and his spouse for the occasion. Really, what was that all about ? Caswell, you were wrong…no GG was as purported.
Why the need for the spend then, and the timing? Bad enough when the citizens of this country are feeling the pinch and hollering for blue murder daily, begging for relief. Little people must learn little fortitude thru sheep husbandry and goat rearing. Leave all big spending to those who know how.
Neal & Massy (52% shareholder) delivered the Almond Mess lo Barbadians last week which has knocked CLICO from the front page of the Nation newspaper for the moment. A scan of that paper’s front page this morning should create some concerns for Barbadians. Bjorn Bjerkham is mentioned as one of about four parties bidding for the 30-acre beachfront Almond Beach Village property in St. Peter. If Bjerkham gets his wish a small island is about to be divvied up between COW Williams and himself with CLICO’s significant land holding currently encumbered as a result of its publicised demise.
In the case of Bjerkham Barbadians may want to sit up and take notice. If he is able to acquire the Almond Beach Village property, he gets control of the greatest portion of St. Peter coastline – he already owns St. Peter’s Bay in the Road View area. Remember he is currently working on redesigning the Six Mens area with the Port Ferdinand marina project. For those who are familiar with the area try to visualize if Bjerkham is able to acquire Almond Beach Village property with its vast beachfront.
Officially our government boasts that there are no private beaches in Barbados but if Bjerkham is allowed to acquire Almond beach front it is akin to creating a private beach front in Barbados by effectively blocking off access at both ends. Whether by accident or design our laws of public beach access in Barbados are being circumvented by those who have deep pockets.