Grim Christmas said to loom for Harlequin Property workers in St Vincent: report

Workers of one of the resorts owned by the troubled Harlequin Property development company, “are facing a blue Christmas”, after receiving no pay for the past three months, a Caribbean news website is reporting.

According to Caribbean360.com, a Barbados-based, pan-Caribbean news organisation, the workers who walked off their jobs “in frustration on December 2” from Buccament Bay “have been desperately holding out hope that they would receive [their] outstanding monies this season”.

“But accountant Brian Glasgow, who was appointed by the High Court as the proposal trustee for Harlequin Property Limited, owners of the resort, dashed their hopes somewhat as he told iWitness News [a local television station] there was virtually no money,” Caribbean360.com reported.

It went on to note that the “debt riddled resort” had been forced to close its doors last Wednesday after the local electric company had disconnected its power supply “because of a massive electricity bill said to be more than EC$1m (US$ 370,370)”.

As reported here last week,  Harlequin Property, the UK-based parent of the St Vincent-based Harlequin SVG property business, won a US$11.6m (£9.14m) claim against it former accountants, Wilkins Kennedy, in the British High Court,on 12 December, although the judge in the case said the money should not be paid directly to Harlequin, pending the resolution first of such other matters as the needs of the company’s investors.

In its report, Caribbean360.com quoted David Ames, the British director of Harlequin, as saying the Wilkins Kennedy money “was not likely to come until the end of January”.

In that case, Harlequin had been seeking US$60m in its claim against Wilkins Kennedy, in connection with the construction of the Buccament Bay project.

Founded in 2005

Harlequin was founded in 2005 to develop resorts in the Caribbean, and was heavily marketed to investors by UK advisers. One published estimate puts the number of such “mainly UK pension investors” as around 6,000.

The company is based in the Southeast England town of Wickford, and in its early days it was promoted by such celebrities as former Wimbledon champion Pat Cash, golf legend Gary Player, and footballer Andy Townsend. It filed for voluntary administration in 2013.

According to Caribbean 360.com, Ames has said Buccament Bay Resort “could be back up and running in the Spring of 2017”. No details as to how this might be possible were given.

Ames, the report went on, is due to return to St Vincent in February to face tax evasion charges.

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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