By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
and NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Urban Renewal’s co-chair yesterday denied that himself or his law firm were representing Stellar Energy over its controversial $600 million-plus waste-to-energy plant, despite the company’s website listing them as its attorneys.
Algernon Allen, a former contender for the Free National Movement (FNM) leadership and ex-Cabinet minister, told Tribune Business the company was not registered with his office.
Mr Allen, who heads the Allen, Allen & Co law firm based in Dowdeswell Street, said bluntly: “It is not registered with me, it’s not. I’m not the attorneys for Stellar Energy.”
Yet Stellar Energy, on its website stellarenergyltd.com, lists Allen, Allen & Co as ‘lawyers’ under the heading of its “professional partners”. The company’s banking ‘partner’ is named as Royal Bank of Canada and its Bahamian head office.
Mr Allen seemed surprised that Stellar had listed his firm as the company’s attorney, after Tribune Business contacted him and pointed out the website content.
He directed Tribune Business to make inquiries with Graham, Thompson & Co, saying he believed they were representing Stellar Energy. Yet Mr Allen conceded he was uncertain about this, and Graham, Thompson & Co could not be contacted in time to verify whether this was true.
However, independent research by Tribune Business using the Companies Registry confirmed there are at least three interlinked entities, all bearing the name Stellar, that appear to be part of the waste-to-energy plan.
One was incorporated on June 30, 2014, just days before the company and its principal, Dr Fabrizio Zanaboni, signed the controversial Letter of Intent (LOI)that has caused Renward Wells, parliamentary secretary in the Ministry of Works, so much trouble.
All three entities were incorporated by Sterling (Bahamas), a financial and corporate services provider located at Saffrey Square in the heart of downtown Nassau.
Stellar Energy Ltd, which lists Dr Zanaboni as a director, was the first to be incorporated on January 12, 2009.. This is likely the parent company, and Dr Zanaboni was listed as a director three days later.
Then, confirming the Free National Movement’s (FNM) claims, Stellar Waste-to-Energy Bahamas Ltd was incorporated on February 25, 2014. This firm, which was the one that signed the LOI with the Government, is likely to be a special purpose vehicle formed specifically for pursuing the $600 million project at the New Providence landfill.
Finally, an entity called Stellar Energy Investments Waste-to-Energy Bahamas Ltd was formed on June 30, 2014, although its role is unclear. It may be a vehicle to raise financing for the project.
Mr Allen’s denial of his firm’s involvement with Stellar raises more questions, with calls having been made by the likes of Opposition leader, Dr Hubert Minnis, for the identity of the company’s Bahamian partners and legal representatives to be disclosed. When contacted yesterday afternoon, Dr Minnis said he was still making inquiries to that end.
And Dr Zanaboni, in a November 21 interview with Tribune Business, said he and Stellar had been having discussions on their proposal with the “highest levels” of government.
This, he added, included Prime Minister Perry Christie and the Energy Task Force, which was headed by Mr Wells, over a 14-15 month period.
This would take talks back to 2012, just after the Christie administration took office. His comments raise questions over how much the Prime Minister knew, and was involved in, talks between the Government and Stellar, and whether Deputy Prime Minister, Philip Davis, was kept fully informed.
Dr Zanaboni also told Tribune Business in a recent e-mail that Stellar was one of the initial 13 bidders to submit proposals for BEC.
Stellar Energy’s plans were first brought to the fore last November when Tribune Business reported exclusively that the company was offering to build and operate a plasma waste-to-energy plant at the New Providence landfill, creating 400-500 full-time jobs in the process.
Dr Zanaboni at the time said Stellar Energy’s integrated solution offered the Bahamas far greater benefits than proposals which were then being considered by the Government.