Harlequin meeting of creditors set

Creditors of Harlequin Property (SVG), the beleaguered Caribbean resort developer, have been notified that a first meeting has been set for 31 March, to vote on the appointment of a bankruptcy trustee and the appointment of “one or more, not exceeding five” inspectors. 

Because the company is effectively located in two countries – the UK and St Vincent and the Grenadines, in the Caribbean – and has creditors in both, the time of the creditors’ meeting is being given as 3pm British Summer Time and 10am Atlantic Standard Time, and there will be meetings held in both places as well.

The main location will take place at Grenadine House in Kingstown, St Vincent, where it will be chaired by the Supervisor of Insolvency, while a secondary location will be in London, at 8 Northumberland Avenue, in Westminster.

The Harlequin saga began more than a decade ago, when a new holiday resort development called Buccament Bay on St Vincent broke ground, with thousands of mainly UK residents buying off-plan properties at the advice of their financial advisers. At first it seemed destined to become a new Caribbean favourite among British sun-lovers, alongside such well-known resorts as Sandy Lane, Barbados, Sandals Halcyon Beach Resort, St Lucia, and Jumby Bay, Antigua, but it soon ran into trouble, and ended up in the courts.

In spite of such problems, an undisclosed number of investors are said to have remained loyal to the project and the man behind it, UK-based David Ames, who has been trying to organise an alternative plan to the seemingly-inevitable liquidation of what remains of the business.

Harlequin investors, of which there are around 3,600, account for the vast majority of creditors in the development, according to Ames.

As reported, the Harlequin plan was dealt a setback last month when the court refused to grant the developer more time to put its plan together — thus forcing it into all-but-certain bankruptcy. The company said it planned to appeal the decision. Harlequin entered bankruptcy on on 24 February.

A week earlier, Harlequin founder Ames had been charged by the UK’s Serious Fraud Office with three counts of fraud in connection with his business. At the time, Ames denied all the charges and said he looked forward to clearing his name.

Most recently, Harlequin has been appealing to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for leave to appeal the St Vincent court’s decision to assign HP SVG into bankruptcy.

In doing so, it cited the fact that some 857 HP (SVG) investors it surveyed in February had signed a petition supporting Harlequin’s appeal, and 95% of 885 HP (SVG) investors stated that they want to avoid liquidation.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Helen Burggraf
Helen Burggraf is the editor of International Investment. A US-trained journalist, she has worked in Rome, New York City and London, covering everything from the fashion and retailing industries to the global drinking water and water-treatment sector, private equity, and most recently, the international cross-border financial services/advice industry.

Read more from Helen Burggraf

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