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Sarkis: I Never Imagined Fight With The Govt

Baha Mar’s original developer Sarkis Izmirlian.

Baha Mar’s original developer Sarkis Izmirlian.

By TANEKA THOMPSON

Tribune News Editor

tmthompson@

tribunemedia.net

IN a memo sent to Baha Mar employees yesterday, resort developer Sarkis Izmirlian said in his 13 years working on the project he “never imagined” he would be “fighting” with the government over the $3.5 billion property.

Mr Izmirlian also lamented that the project has “now been usurped for political reasons.” He also hit out at the government’s “deplorable” decision not to pay the resort’s foreign workers their salaries on payday last week.

His comments came a day after Minister of Foreign and Immigration Fred Mitchell reminded the resort CEO that his permanent resident status in this country could be revoked after his “attacks” against Prime Minister Perry Christie.

“ . . .Today we find ourselves fighting against the government of the Bahamas,” Mr Izmirlian wrote to Baha Mar’s staff, referred to as resort “citizens.”

“What was a commercial transaction to be dealt with by private parties has now been usurped for political reasons. The government’s attempts to appoint a handpicked liquidator is the wrong decision and our fighting those efforts in courts in the Bahamas and the United States for months and years will only lead to the slow death of the very thing we have been trying to create. The delays created by the winding up petition, the uncertainty of the process and the government’s inability or unwillingness to explain its plans has led to an untenable situation.”

He added: “After 13 years of working on Baha Mar, overcoming the great recession and being 97 per cent complete, I never imagined I would find myself fighting with the very government that asked me to invest in the Bahamas in the first place. Our position however remains the same, we will work with the government of the Bahamas cooperatively towards the rapid and successful opening of Baha Mar.”

As the fate of the property’s more than 2,000 employees remain in limbo, Mr Izmirlian stressed that Baha Mar’s main focus this week is to “explore ways” to pay its non-Bahamian workers.

Last week the government decided it was not going to pay Baha Mar’s expatriate workers their salaries although it has paid the property’s Bahamian workers for three pay periods since the resort filed for bankruptcy on June 29. Bahamian employees are paid bi-weekly while expat workers are paid monthly.

Baha Mar had received the green light from a US judge to access debtor in possession financing to pay staff while it was undergoing bankruptcy, however this order had to be approved by the Supreme Court of the Bahamas. The application was denied in this jurisdiction, but Baha Mar has been granted leave to appeal.

“The government’s decision to withhold payment of your salaries is deplorable and I hope we can prevail on the government to either pay the salaries to allow the debtor in possession financing (approved by a US bankruptcy court) to proceed,” Mr Izmirlian said.

“Our unwavering priority continues to be to reach an outcome that enables Baha Mar to complete construction and open the resort to the benefit of the Bahamas. However this cannot be done without our talented team.”

He added that delays in reaching an agreement means the opportunity to open this year is shrinking fast.

“The next two weeks are critical and we will continue to work in faith will all parties.”

Mr Izmirlian also said that on August 17, the Delaware bankruptcy court will consider a previously filed incentive programme for Baha Mar workers “in the event that we are left with no alternative but to temporarily maintain, rather than operate Baha Mar.”

In court papers filed in the US, Baha Mar previously revealed plans to reduce staff to a “skeleton” operation of around 50 workers if it cannot come to an agreement with Chinese stakeholders to get the resort open.

On Friday, the Supreme Court adjourned a hearing into the government’s winding up petition against the resort until August 19.

Last week, on the Star FM radio show “Jeffrey,” Mr Izmirlian said he did not think Prime Minister Perry Christie was acting in the best interest of the country as it relates to Baha Mar. He added that voters will ultimately decide at the polls if they agree with the government’s handling of the matter.

Mr Izmirlian has said his family has invested almost $900 million into the project to date.

Comments

Honestman 4 years, 3 months ago

The PLP has sunk to new depths with its total mishandling of the BahaMar affair. All knowledgeable Bahamians, and now the World at large, can see this administration for what it is. There is no need to say more.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 3 months ago

The emperor has no clothes now and all can plainly see why he can't get it up anymore!

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TheYoungBahamian 4 years, 3 months ago

I feel for him. Just got word that the EXIM Bank have already instructed their auditors to begin the process of getting information on the value of the assets of the 14 Bahamar companies "to begin the process of receivership from the mortgagee".

The bank already knows Bahamar will lose the fight against the winding up petition. Sadly.

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proudloudandfnm 4 years, 3 months ago

The only way we will be able to clean up our image after this debacle is prosecute anyone proven to have taken bribes. It is painfully obvious that the PLP have been bought by the Chinese. They have to be prosecuted and jailed if we ever expect to see foreign investment in this country again....

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whybahamas 4 years, 3 months ago

Is any of Baha Mar actually open and running? Any construction still continuing?

Are all of these employees being paid to stay home?

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CommonSense 4 years, 3 months ago

The hotels itself are not opened and all construction has stopped. Back-office operations are continuing in key departments that are needed for day-to-day functions. The vast majority of the employees are 'being paid to stay home'.

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CommonSense 4 years, 3 months ago

Wrong on the first one. Baha Mar back-office operations are open and running.

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Honestman 4 years, 3 months ago

It is clear that the PLP are petrified at the prospect of this matter going to Chapter 11 as their duplicity will be exposed in open court. Thus, this administration will do EVERYTHING in its power to prevent this from happening even if it means the country going down the toilet.

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birdiestrachan 4 years, 3 months ago

Mr: Sarkis for what ever reason fired the first shot, and what ever actions followed are reactions to his actions. It is my hope that this situation will be resolved .Common sense dictates that the Government would have loved for this property to be completed and thousands would have jobs it would reduce the unemployment rate. and make them look very good. all else is just plain nonsense. Including the editorial page.

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Cobalt 4 years, 3 months ago

I'm still trying to figure out why everyone (especially those posting on this page) is so shocked and disgruntled!

What more were y'all expecting from the PLP??? Bahamians gullibly and foolishly believed in the PLP and their lies... walked into their individual polling divisions... and did a bunch of nonsense! Now the reality of their stupidity is hitting home. Unemployment is on the rise with no end in sight.... foreign investors no longer see the Bahamas as a viable investment option..... and the country is rudderless!

What did y'all think would happen after y'all vote for Perry and his PLP??? Yinna shut ya mout!! Ya reapin jus wat ya sow!!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 3 months ago

The reverse psychology effort in all of your comments is too transparent and overdone; but do persist if it consoles you even though most of us would wish to hear something else from you for a change.

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Emac 4 years, 3 months ago

I totally agree. Like I said on another all of us did not vote PLP.

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Cobalt 4 years, 3 months ago

If you didn't vote PLP... then I'm obviously not talking to you, Emac.

(Who the cap fits.......)

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Cobalt 4 years, 3 months ago

Reverse psychology?????

Reverse psychology by definition is a technique that involves advocating for a belief that is opposite from the one that's truly desired. By definition, if I were indeed using "reverse psychology"... it would technically mean that I was advocating for the PLP. So what you're saying doesn't make much sense. I think that the metaphor that you were looking for is "sour grapes" (unfair criticism from someone who is unhappy about not getting something) (disparagement of something that has proven unattainable).

Like many Bahamians, I think that you're having a little trouble articulating your thoughts. Furthermore.... my criticism of the Bahamian people doesn't even begin to express the disappointment and disapproval that many of us have regarding the Bahamian electorate..... so it's far from overdone. If anything..... they deserve further criticism! Just look at the state of our country! Every half-decade we endorse known criminals and thieves to represent us to our own demise. How foolish can a people be??? And you talk about consolation??? There is NO consolation in this fact! Some of us are on the frontline and bear full witness to the negative affects of these idiotic decisions. And while the current economic condition does profit some of us in the medical field by allowing us to increase the cost of our healthcare delivery services... many good people suffer in the wake. So for those of us with morals, values and principles intact... there is NO consolation in this matter.

If you and others are wishing to hear something else from me for a change.... you are going to be waiting a long time.

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TheMadHatter 4 years, 3 months ago

Why doesn't the Govt just come right out and say "If you are white, have money, and want to invest here - don't do it!!!! We don't want white people's money."

The truth will set you free.

TheMadHatter

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