0

Obie: Drop Resort Wind-Up Petition

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe

By AVA TURNQUEST

Tribune Chief Reporter

aturnquest@tribunemedia.net

TOURISM Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday called for the government to suspend its winding up petition and focus on its role as a mediator in the stalled Baha Mar negotiations.

Mr Wilchcombe said the biggest losers in the protracted legal fight over the $3.5bn mega resort are the Bahamian people as he predicted that court rulings in both the Bahamas and US courts would be followed by lengthy appeals. He suggested that if liquidators are appointed to oversee the resort, it would lead to an “uphill battle” for the government.

Pointing out that both the Bahamas and Chinese governments held the “trump cards,” he insisted that it was never too late to rebuild broken relationships and salvage goodwill if all sides made good on declarations that they were committed to opening the resort.

Mr Wilchcombe said: “Of course the government has made the decision to proceed as such, and we take direction from legal quarters – that notwithstanding, it doesn’t mean the players in the game can’t sit and talk. Maybe I’m ignorant, but the bigger thing for me is getting the matter resolved, and in my view that’s bigger than the wrangling that’s taking place and all the brilliance of law.”

“Yes, they began in the court,” he said. “I agree it shouldn’t be dealt with in a Delaware court and that it was important to bring the matters to our soil. But having done that, it’s time to get the players back at the table.

“Faced with the circumstances, some other decisions have to be made, but I feel that all that requires is two sides asking for an adjournment. We can have the sides withdraw or get a suspension, sit down and talk.”

“Something is wrong at the table when you have the developer sitting at the outskirts, you have China Construction America continuing their investments in the Bahamas, you have the Export Import Bank of China, in my opinion the government of the Bahamas and government of China hold the trump cards.”

On Friday, Supreme Court Justice Ian Winder said he would decide on September 4 if he would grant – or strike out – the government’s winding up petition for the appointment of provisional liquidators to oversee the development.

The winding up petition was filed on July 16 after the first round of talks mediated by the government – led by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson – in China failed.

Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune he still believed that all matters could be worked out regardless of how many hours it took at the negotiating table, and despite assertions from many quarters that all doors were closed.

He pointed out that when Atlantis investor Sol Kerzner came to the Bahamas, it was not a completely smooth process but government leaders at the time “disagreed agreeably.”

“All players have voiced their commitment to seeing this resolved so unless they’re bull-crapping us, let’s get it done,” he said.

“These matters are not decided in court rooms, the process just creates more delay and more negatives. It’s too much of an exact science, what we require is something that doesn’t sit on legal books – a heart and a head.”

“What are we going to achieve by creating the anger? The enemies? I can’t figure that one out,” he added.

Mr Wilchcombe expressed his confidence in Prime Minister Perry Christie’s ability to mediate an out-of-court resolution between major stakeholders given his strong relationship with the President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping.

He said Mr Christie’s “brilliance” lay in his adeptness as a negotiator, adding that he was sure the prime minister would prefer to have the matter resolved out of court.

Mr Wilchcombe said the current environment was a “crying shame” considering the amount of “time, energy and ingenuity” invested by stakeholders.

“I’m not worried about stalled negotiations, I think it requires the strength of players with the will and determination, and who want to turn impossible to possible,” he said.

“The biggest losers in this game are the Bahamian people. It’s not going to make Sarkis (Izmirlian) any poorer, or CCA, or the Chinese bank any poorer, but we are poorer at the moment because we have an idle facility and many hopes of Bahamians have been dashed.”

“I think we should continue our mediation,” he said. “Of course we are in a precarious position now but that doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Even if we succeed in this current route, we’re still facing an uphill battle.”

“Obviously it’s not going to go that easily, I don’t think anyone thinks that. There will be appeals and a heavy cost to the government, and until such time that it is resolved in the US, we still have to pay the bills. Why should we pay those bills? As the saying goes, we ‘can’t be penny wise and pound foolish.‘ Too much goodwill is being lost in this,” he added.

Last week, Rosewood Hotels and Resorts International, one of the hotel brands at Baha Mar, filed a motion in a Delaware bankruptcy court to terminate its licence with the development on West Bay Street.

The motion was filed the same day the government began arguments for its petition to wind up Baha Mar in the Supreme Court on the grounds that it owes the state upwards of $59m to various entities.

In an earlier interview with The Tribune, Mr Wilchcombe said the potential withdrawal of the major hotel brand was a “big loss” for the country.

Comments

Economist 3 years, 11 months ago

Finally, the penny has dropped. Well done!

7

PKMShack 3 years, 11 months ago

the next twist in the saga, the spin to say they now trying to fix tings, he should of been vocal from day ONE. Politics - these guys are smart I give them that. Now Perry will say he is or is not speaking on behalf of the government. Now they call tell Winder to go against the gov. to save face for them and blame the courts for the failed winding up. These guys are the best I do give them that. ANYPLACE else most of them would be impeached. He almost sounds like he against his home boys, another distraction for some other dirt that's about to come out. Just more of the same b/s they put out there. What have they done from day one that we can say they looking out for the country. Please TAL and Birdie convince me.

4

Wideawake 3 years, 11 months ago

Perhaps Justice Winder already knows that the arguments presented by Baha Mar's two Qcs are valid and would, in all probability, hold up during the Appeals process, so what point is there in him ruling in favor of government? All that would do is waste time and money for Baha Mar and The Bahamas government and would, in no way, provide a solution to the on-going debacle.

So if Justice Winder rules the way he knows he should, his ruling gives government an easy way out. Next they look for a scapegoat...hmm who was it that was responsible for the "shaky" winding up petition. Oh yess!! The AG. Perfect........ Bye bye Allison!! sic ...Gomez on her sorry backside!

"My Fellow Bahamians, our plan to tief Baha Mar did not work, because the AG screwed up the paperwork! Anyway, never mind, now we are going to do as Obie suggests, make-up with Sarkis, and get the show back on the road again!! ..Yeah!!!... Once again your PLP government saves the day!! .... Eight thousand jobs for Bahamians! ...all thanks to your PM!! ...So don't forget, Baha Mar Nation, VOTE FOR US, the job creators.!!!... By the way did I tell you we callin an early election?....Yeah, we have to, before any more "stuff" comes out in Delaware!!"

Quick! Someone call Winder and tell him he can "unwind", 'cause we have already made his mind up!

3

jackbnimble 3 years, 11 months ago

This is disturbing on so many levels. You almost get the impression the Government has something to prove. What, I don't know. I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Wilchombe on this one.

3

realfreethinker 3 years, 11 months ago

it took kind of long for them to see the folly of their ways. So Perry sent Obie out their to test the reaction of people.Don't think for a second that they haven't discussed this

8

jackbnimble 3 years, 11 months ago

Wow. Didn't think of that. I think you may be right.

1

MonkeeDoo 3 years, 11 months ago

I agree - Obie is the sacrificial save face lamb.

5

Zakary 3 years, 11 months ago

  • Obie is the sacrificial save face lamb.

Precisely. This is all he could ever be.

The Tourism Minister is not an independent entity, he is a part of the Government. He is also a Cabinet Minister, and so when he speaks, he speaks on behalf of the Government.

We are not stupid, so it’s obvious and very clear to thinking Bahamians what’s going on here.

The wind up process was simply a means to an end, one that didn’t do what they thought it could have done. The Tourism Minister is just the sacrificial lamb and “spin around” man.

The only way anyone should take what the Tourism Minister says seriously is by this principle;

  • A fundamental principle of "Cabinet Government" is unity. It is important to present a united front to the public; if any Minister feels conscientiously unable to support a decision taken by Cabinet, he has one course open to him and that is to resign his office.

0

Wideawake 3 years, 11 months ago

Probably following orders ... PM's "heir apparent", Leader in Waiting.

2

TalRussell 3 years, 11 months ago

It sure sounds likes Comrade Tourism Minister Obadiah is preparing to break ranks with the PM, and with his cabinet obligations - thus will be resigning, or he is publicly challenging the PM, to fired him from cabinet?
The minister should now also publicly declare, whether or not he has been in communications with Izmarlin - directly or indirectly - since the government's winding-up supreme court petition was filed? If so, is he now willing to reveal such verbal and written discussions to the public?
Will the honourable minister, please share his "private" outside of cabinet experience in winding up "financially troubled" corporations?

0

banker 3 years, 11 months ago

Or ... maybe Obie went to the PM and said "Yo Perry muh man (giggle). Why dontchya let me put a strawman up to save face and it may make you look good?". Perry says "Dat Obie is a good guy -- go ahead. That Gibson Gal een do us any good."

But Obie chuckles to hisseff because he knows it will make him look like the voice of reason, and he does have plans of replacing Perry. He is jockeying among the PLPissilites to replace PG Tips, because they all know da he jest gatta go!

The PLPissilites are masters of survival. As long as PG Tips was their puppet, all was fine. But Mayonnaise Gibson gets uppity, PG Tips lets her, and gets the whole party into a jam.

So the damage control section of the PLPissilites is going to trow PG-Tips under da jitney by having Obie be the voice of reason. Once it works, Obie goes unda da jitney as well, and Brave can take his rightful place as Dear Leader of the PLPissilites.

Perry doan know he is becoming a wiping rag for the bottom of a jitney. In the meantime, poor Fweddy and Shame thinks that what's coming out of PG Tips and Mayonnaise Gibson is party line, so they pile on, and it is a good way to leave them in the dust and outta Brave's way.

The PLP will allus find a way to suck the national teat dry. Buh bye Perry!

6

Maynergy 3 years, 11 months ago

In the long run, nothing a government can do, does more good for the people that creating and adopting good policies for creative innovative economic growth. What this government or most government do is to either accelerate or decelerate long run economic growth - i.e the most important aspect of macro-economic policy. Nothing matters more in the long run for the quality of life in an economy that its long run rate of growth. Consider this, for a more sustainable prognosis, using the spending and credit powers of the national government to affect the economy is an awesome way to further open up the economic umbrella for further stimulus in the family islands could be a trigger which could loan more prosperous outcome for everyone who embraces new enterprising and emerging trends to succeed. Whats your view?

0

newcitizen 3 years, 11 months ago

Ask the members of parliament what macro-economic means and you might be lucky to get a couple right answers. The problem with our government is that no one involved has any idea what they are actually doing.

3

John 3 years, 11 months ago

Well by damn! Where was Obie when people was saying all da time that the government need to try resolve this matter and stop taking sides? (or at least not appearing to side with the Chinese) If you watch the world news, China is definitely headed into a recession and will eventually pull world markets behind it. Us stock markets are already at their lowest levels in over a year and China has devalued its currency on at least two occasions in two weeks If Bah Mar is not finished and up and running before the economy shows more cracks and signs of slippage, who will replace companies like Rose Wood and others that pull out? Even local companies will opt out of the development or scale down their plans. And then you must watch the talks of persons like Sol Kerzner, who is reportedly hoping to buy Bah Mar at a "fire sale' price and complete it.

1

Bahamian_in_London 3 years, 11 months ago

It is clear what has gone down.

CCA asked Christie to pressure Sarkis to accept the Chinese offer on their terms, by requiring Sarkis to put in an extra $100m + guaranteeing another $200m. So they filed the winding up order thinking it would create too much pressure for Sarkis not too accept.

Of course, it didn't go to plan (does it ever for the PLP?) and on the same day as the Government's lawyers are arguing for the appointment of 'provisional' liquidators and not a winding up order (changing the goal posts), Rosewood pulls out, citing lack of supreme court approval and Baha Mar no owning the land. The second point was also a PLP decision as the AG filed a request to reclaim the land.

Not only that, but now it is clear that the US judge will order CCA to release communications with the Government which will demonstrate more collusion to the world.

So now the PLP are back-pedalling via Obie. I expect to see a concession from the Chinese soon on the requirements of the guarantee. If Christie does not have enough pull with the Chinese to execute this, both his and the Bahamian people's fate is sealed. Baha Mar will be in court battles for the next 3 years, while the buildings and the economy decays.

6

MonkeeDoo 3 years, 11 months ago

Bahamian_in_London: I think that there should be little doubt that Baha Mar has, or knows the content of the CCA Communications already. And can and will produce them if the Chinese don't. This is truly a case of shit being thrown into a fast moving fan ! Trouble is, the Bahamian people are sitting in front of the fan !!!

2

MonkeeDoo 3 years, 11 months ago

IKALIKL: Notwithstanding that the funding is Chinese, I am sure that no one is paying for anything in Chinese Renmimbi, so the likelihood is that US dollars are moving through US Banks. They only have to follow where the money goes to, from the CCA bank accounts, and we will know who the beneficiaries are. Same for Baha Mar if they made foreign currency payments to suppliers. Follow the money !

1

BaronInvest 3 years, 11 months ago

This is great stuff for Hollywood. Can already envision a new movie "The Hotel" - amazing comedy potential. The directors/actors could be same like in "The Interview", Randall Park as CCA CEO, Seth Rogen as Sarkis, Eddy Murphy as the PM, Martin Lawrence as Freddy...

Can already see Martin Lawrence chasing Seth Rogen on a jetski infront of the Bahamar trying to get his residency card while talking to an investor assuring him that his money is safe if he passes the psychological test.

2

Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 11 months ago

Too late. The DOJ and FBI need to complete their ongoing investigation of the likely crimes committed under the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by certain senior officials of CCA involving senior members of the Bahamas government.

2

ThisIsOurs 3 years, 11 months ago

The PM and his whole cabinet cannot afford another "I was blindsided" episode. They should get around the table and start asking themselves the question, Is China too big to fail?

0

Tarzan 3 years, 11 months ago

The government has painted itself into a corner. Clearly the "liquidation route" is nothing but a prescription for the end of Baha Mar and years, and years of futile litigation. Anyone with a wit of experience would have seen that from the outset.

The Chapter 11 proceeding supervised by the U.S. courts, would have been the best solution to get the resort up and running, but either ego, or fear of the exposure of corruption made that a "no go".

Now we have a court proceeding underway, and parties who are locked in a "wait and see" mode, hoping they will get some negotiating leverage out of the process. This is clearly the worst case scenario for the Bahamas and the thousands of Bahamians who are economic hostages to the achievement of a rational resolution.

Frankly I don't see how the government gets itself out of this mess. It's way too late to start posturing about withdrawing the liquidation action. What about all the creditors who have sued the various entities developing the enterprise. Will all of them hold off for the time it takes for a rational plan be worked out? That is what Chapter 11 is all about, and the Bahamas has no comparable legal framework that can permit a quick resolution while the enterprise moves forward.

In summary a totally unnecessary mess. Something about Humpty Dumpty comes to mind.

4

MonkeeDoo 3 years, 11 months ago

It would appear that our Attorney General tells the Judiciary how to adjudicate things, so she can just tell the Appeals Court to over-rule brother Winder and grant Bahamian Court Jurisdiction in the Chapter 11 matter. Quite simple to me !!! That's all Izmirlean was asking for. Now a few million dollars leaner our Government is looking to roll it all back ?. Just marvelous.

1

Wideawake 3 years, 11 months ago

It could be much simpler than that. If Justice Winder decides that the case made by Corbett QC and Glinton QC showed that the government did, indeed, present "a slap dash case", and if he throws their case out because it was procedurally flawed, then no need to wait until Sept 4th, just call everyone back and make his decision known.

The only question then is, who gets blamed for presenting an ill-conceived, " slap dash" case, and we can probably guess who that would be.

3

Sign in to comment