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Blindsided: Pm Admits Govt Caught Off-Guard On Baha Mar

Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet speaking last night on the Baha Mar situation. 
Photo: Peter Ramsay/BIS

Prime Minister Perry Christie and his Cabinet speaking last night on the Baha Mar situation. Photo: Peter Ramsay/BIS

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Tribune Staff Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

PRIME Minister Perry Christie last night said Baha Mar’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in the United States on Monday came “without notice” to the government as he insisted that “it is completely false” to say that his administration had misled the public on the $3.5bn project’s status.

After indicating that his administration was blindsided by the bankruptcy filing, Mr Christie said that the decision by Baha Mar’s CEO Sarkis Izmirlian came at a point when his personal intervention with all parties involved led to a substantial agreement on a packaged solution for additional funding by the China Export-Import Bank.

This deal was going to ensure that the general contractor resumed construction at the West Bay Street project and that the mega-resort was completed, Mr Christie said.

“This is supported by exchange of correspondence as recently as June 26,” he said.

However, in the aftermath of Baha Mar’s shock bankruptcy filing, Mr Christie said the end goal for the government remains the same.

He spoke during an emergency press conference last night at the Office of the Prime Minister, flanked by members of his Cabinet.

It came hours after both the FNM and the DNA accused the government of not being straightforward with Bahamians regarding Baha Mar’s status.

The Prime Minister last night also invited FNM Leader Dr Hubert Minnis to attend a briefing on the matter in the interest of transparency.

“The government wants to reiterate that the number one priority of all stakeholders involved with the Baha Mar project should be its swift completion and opening,” Mr Christie said.

“It is of great importance to the nation and to all Bahamians that Baha Mar opens successfully. We must all work towards this goal as a matter of national priority. This is not the time to play politics, but rather, we must unite to ensure the best interest of the Bahamas and all Bahamians is met.

“The government remains committed to being open and transparent with the Bahamian people, as it has since the beginning of this project. Any claim that the government or I have been misleading the public as it relates to the status of Baha Mar is completely false.

“The government has been working with all parties and negotiating in good faith, and with an end goal of a successful opening of Baha Mar. The decision by Baha Mar to file for Chapter 11 under the US Bankruptcy Code does not change our end goal.”

Baha Mar currently has more than 2,000 Bahamians employed at the resort. Workers were sent home on Monday and told to no longer physically report to work. The resort has said it will pay wages to employees for the next three weeks. However, if Baha Mar’s issues cannot be resolved, there is likely to be a workforce reduction, a statement on Monday said.

While Mr Christie did not speak directly to the government’s assistance, if any, to employees, he said the sole focus remains on Baha Mar’s opening to protect the interests of current and potential workers.

“Negotiations must continue to progress immediately to ensure the successful opening as soon as possible. As previously stated, the government will not take sides, but rather continue to support all stakeholders in coming to a resolution. As the government of The Bahamas, we take the side of the Bahamian people, and we are acting to ensure the needs and interests of the people are first and foremost.

“This project will provide great economic opportunities for our country. Collectively, our sole focus should be on Baha Mar opening so that the jobs of current and potential employees are protected. This goal should not be and will not be, distorted by politics,” Mr Christie said.

Mr Izmirlian said in a statement on Monday that the decision to file for Chapter 11 came with a view to finish construction and open the property as soon as possible.

China Construction America, Baha Mar’s general contractor, has been blamed for repeated opening delays resulting in substantial revenue losses and the resort’s inability to open.

Yesterday, Baha Mar filed a claim in the English High Court against CCA’s parent company. The claim against China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd seeks financial remedies for alleged liabilities in respect to guarantee and performance obligations related to the construction of the project.

Baha Mar is expected to employ 5,000 people when it opens. The resort’s initial opening date was December 2014.

Comments

GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

PGC said "no deal" right? Freddie said, they had a deal. I think they have a deal. A deal with the Chinese. Its like horse betting. You pick the wrong horse, you don't win. You lose the money. PGC lost his money in this. Why would anybody on the developer side ever take him seriously again ever?

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

P.S. The picture reminds me of the last Supper. Pick your characters. So Judas sits to the right of Jesus, right? What a coincidence. (no worries, I am Catholic.).

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Da only "off-guard" associated with this PLP Cabinet, is their total disregard when it comes down to telling the natives, the damn truth about anything, Comrade members PLP cabinet there are many natives who think you were NOT blindsided or even caught off-guard on Baha Mar, choosing to believe the opposite is where the real truth rests. You damn well knew when you just days ago were handing over a cheque of taxpayers monies in the many millions dollars to Baha Mar, you were explicitly told that, if the monies were not paid immediately, they Baha Mar would have fire 2000 workers.
Doubtful the PLP machine has any integrity left to even run a credible slate of 2017 General Elections candidates.
In fact, history may just be in da making, when we could see for the very first time in Bahamaland's long parliamentary history, a government peacefully forced from office during their mandate? PM you dishonourably misled the nation with ever new statement you made about "saving talks" you had with Baha Mar and da Chinese, and you and your PLP cabinet dan well knows you did. But I have my doubts that much will happen, cuz something tells me Minnis and his MP's, will "again" fail to respond as an effective official opposition party.

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

well what is worrisome is that the Chinese blocked that deal. So much as to who the puppets are in this tragedy or comedy.

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade GrassRoot, I am no longer convinced the Chinese orchestrated the bad towards Baha Mar’s CEO Izmirlian. Didn't he also not pay Bank Nova Scotia, a 200 hundred million dollar loan advanced him? What about all the other hotel deals that walked away, years before the Chinese ever entered the Baha Mar picture?
Taxpayers should first summon da "Fisherman from Cooper's Town" Papa Hubert, to Nassau Town, to ask Papa, why in da hell would he have thought Izmirilan, was qualified to actually construct, much less operate a 3.5 billion dollar tourist project? Let's see all the Papa Hubert resume background checks da FNM cabinet conducted on Izmirlian?

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

Tal, there were many things done and said, reality is that we here in the Bahamas are the only ones that have a vital interest to get Bahamar going. We, you, me, all of us, Izzie, PGC and even DPM. It is more than clear that Baha mar as a stunt for CCA to get the EXIM Bank to bump up their Financial Statements and now CCA is in hit and run mode. So we have a simple choice. Do we want to have and empty building on Cable beach? or do we want our people to have jobs and happy tourists offloading their USD? I think we are beyond politics. You are a create thinker, you are one that the PLP needs after Rollins and Moss got kicked out like in the good old days of Russia. Too bad DPM and PGC bet on the Chinese's horse. So whoever wants to Baha mar to be a success is on the team. Not much else matters really.

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

Tal, I guess its time to stop politics. this problem is Bahamian problem. If the Government can not see that, I am at a loss. We have a choice: a) empty building rotting away at one of the nicer beaches we have, b) get it fixed and bring the jobs to the people. It is established now that all CCA needed was a reason to get a few billion dollars from a Chinese bank to bump up their F/S. CCA has hit and is now on the run. They not coming back, and that's better.

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concernedcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

Tals PGC signed the first heads of agreement w/ Izzie/Baha mar ,,Ingraham made some changes but honored it ,,Would it of looked good not to honor it Izzie can finish the Chinese just want more equity ,,Izzie wants to stiff em

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 2 months ago

The FNM PRIDE gave PGC the last election and it looks like they will do it again.

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asiseeit 4 years, 2 months ago

All I see here are traitors to the Bahamas. These are the people that have destroyed a once vibrant nation. Each and every one in this picture has millions of dollars stashed away but they do not obey the law and disclose their assets so, they are criminals. The problem is, the law does not apply to these kleptocrates. Why must we obey the law and they can do as they please? Bahamians better wake up. Your country is being destroyed by the very people you see in this picture, vote them out!

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

We don't get pick the rules and laws we are to abide by. Comrade Asiseeit, regardless of what others choose to do, we follow and obey the the good and bad rules and laws of our society cuz that's what we were raised by our parents and grandparents to do. Let us never be them other people.

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

we should pick the rules and laws we want to abide by. I really believe that the only people that experience a tangible economic uptick in this country are the ones that don't disclose their assets. Between BOB, Urban Renewal, Carnival, Numbers Boys, Downtown Nassau and Bahamar, I hope our professional thieves stole enough so they don't have to run for office anymore.

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

18 men and women and everyone single one blind. Where there is no vision the people perish.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 2 months ago

Perry has been blind-sided ever since he met that mango-skinned Long Island gal............ BOL

What does the Bible (Jesus) say about the "blind leading the blind...............????????????????

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade, if I be's PM Chrsitie, I'd be takem all the into my close confidence, by dangling cabinet posts, or cushy government appointments, in front all sitting red shirts MP, Minnis included? Abaco's Edision, done PLP, so no worries there.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 2 months ago

PERRY HAS ADMITTED THAT HE IS NOT CAPABLE OF LEADING OUR COUNTRY ANYMORE .......... HE NEEDS TO DO THE HONOURABLE THING FIRE HIS CABINET AND RESIGN, PROROGUE THE HOUSE AND CALL FOR NEW ELECTIONS ................... WE NEED A NEW LEADER FOR CHRISTMAS

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Publius 4 years, 2 months ago

It would be a dissolution of Parliament required for an election, not a prorogation. Proroguing the House is done to start a new Session within a single term in office. Just pointing that out for correctness sake. And yes, they all need to disappear, them and everyone like them no matter which Party or grouping they are in.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 2 months ago

I did the research and you are correct ............. Dissolution is needed

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

I agree, he has proven without a doubt that he is unfit to lead.

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

To be fair, they would have been given absolutely no indication of Bahama r filling for Chapter 11. Bahamar would have been extremely tight lipped about it. Telling anyone that you are about to enter into bankruptcy is not something you do. Some companies may use it as a negotiating tactic, but in this case I am pretty sure everyone was in the dark expect the Bahamar board.

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade to the contrary, you don't wake-up on a Monday morning and decide to file a 3.5 billion dollar bankruptcy. The process is a lot more involved and all you have to do is read the great details laid out in the court filings. It would have taken many lawyers and accountants from various fields of specialty and from a number of countries over many weeks, if not months, to compile such detailed information.
One thing we are certain of, Baha Mar had an advance plan, yet they were able to wiggle millions more from taxpayers just days before they filed bankruptcy.
Wouldn't you agree that at minimum the opposition should demand a special prosecutor be appointed (not the political Madame AG) to look into all matters Baha Mar, who knew what and when did they know it?
What did the PM know and when did he know it? Which members of his PLP cabinet did he share it with, and when did he share it?

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

Tal, that's not how it works. Just like you don't warm people the days before they are getting fired. There are a number of legal options for all of the creditors if they knew this was going to happen. You keep this stuff secret and any accountants or lawyers working on it would not be saying a word to anyone. As well as the fact that much of the information presented in a filing is boiler plate and will be supplement throughout the process with better and more refined details. Bankruptcy is a process, it isn't just all laid out on the first day.

They also did not wiggles millions from taxpayer, that was money that was owed to them. The government was trying for year to wiggle out of paying them.

What do you really expect from a special prosecutor? First no one is being prosecuted, so you might want to say special investigator. What do you expect to find?

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade, yes I agree but the one difference that should not be lost on you, is at the exact same time Baha Mar were demanding even millions more of taxpayers hard-earned dollars - and I hope you're not going tell me that you agree with such deception?

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

why a special prosecutor to look into Baha Mar? This is a private business, they can do whatever they want. I suggest we need a special prosecutor to figure what the role of individuals in this Government is. I still want to know whether the DPM paid for his ticket to fly to Panama for CCA's dog and pony show. Smells strongly that one.

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Grassroot, anytime you decide accept monies from taxpayers, don't later come pleading, how you is a private corporation? Of course it's taxpayers business to know, if there might have intentional deception or not?

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

Tal, what money did they accept from the taxpayers? Are you talking about the money they were owed for the road work they did?

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realfreethinker 4 years, 2 months ago

TalRussell you are so correct. The only thing that blindsided Perry was the timing. Perry probably asked them to hold off while he see what he can negotiate,but Sarkis realize if he dont move now he could lose everything

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade, go ask the PLP cabinet if they had a representative on Baha Mar's board of directors and if not why not? What about Bahamalander members of the board, did they have a responsibility to taxpayers?

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

Tal, sources from the Bahamar board even stated that this was something done in the dark and that they did in fact blindside the government

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

Comrade Newcitizen, my only advice for any member of any corporation's board is to use their own independent judgment in all corporate decisions. Don't ever think the courts will excuse away anything you do, if you come pleading you simply voted or went along with the CEO, or the majority, for no well-informed reason.
The late great legal brain Paul Adderely once advised me, "a corporation has arms and legs that walks it around - its board of directors."

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

What are you talking about? There is nothing illegal about declaring bankruptcy, or not warning people before hand.

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TalRussell 4 years, 2 months ago

I don't recollect saying anything about it being illegal - just don't be pushing taxpayers for millions dollars, whilst you're contemplating bankruptcy. Why would you need roads if you're going bankrupt?

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newcitizen 4 years, 2 months ago

They already built the road. They built it years ago and the government never paid them. What are you going on about?

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Alltoomuch 4 years, 2 months ago

and so what does that mean - they have no accountability? No writing on the wall... and I also see that BOB are paying their shareholders a dividend with money the Govt are giving them - that doesn't have to be paid back!! Did I really see that?

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dahasamo 4 years, 2 months ago

You did indeed see that.. This happened last year as well. $1,000,000 then and just over $980,000 this year, Money taken from the Treasury with no need to repay and used for dividends for preference shareholders.

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Economist 4 years, 2 months ago

Wait, PM you can still save the day. Cancel the contract for the Bahamasair plans ($80 - 100 million) ...ok so you have to shut it down but at least half will get jobs with the other airlines. Put the $1000 million up with Izmirlian and finish the Hotel.

You can save the 2,000+ jobs for a loss of 300 to 400. It is up to you PM.

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Clamshell 4 years, 2 months ago

The only way one could have been blindsided by this disaster is if he was blind as a fence-post to begin with.

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crabman 4 years, 2 months ago

mr prime minister please take all of the money that will not be used for baha mar and pay me back for letting clico take my lifes savings

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

I heard Freddy is out on the street to pick up the Chinese workers and to send them to Haiti.

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 2 months ago

Freddy should carry his lean arse to Haiti and see what he could do down there.

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MonkeeDoo 4 years, 2 months ago

What a bunch of sad ass ninnies ! How many people does it take to screw in a light-bulb ?. Little wonder that Ryan bailed on these ninnies. He saw the writing on the wall long time ! He just didn't have the balls to call it.

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John 4 years, 2 months ago

Their campaign platform was planked on believing in Bahamians and crime. Murder is 74 at the half- year mark (looking to be 150 killings this year) and now the golden calf that everyone expected to rescue the Bahamian economy has committed suicide, (or been slaughtered) despite being propped up on all sides by this government. Yet they are tightening the tax screws on local Bahamians and many local businesses are closing by the droves. No safety net or life raft has been extended to them. Maybe now they can see and feel the pains of Bahamians who voted them to office..

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GrassRoot 4 years, 2 months ago

well it is even hard to find a cliff to jump off in the Bahamas. We are DOOOOMED.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 4 years, 2 months ago

Christie's gathering of his Cabinet members last night should have been for the sole purpose of announcing the dissolution of parliament. Any group of individuals, no matter how honest, competent or experienced they may be, can do markedly better than the pathetic shameless bunch of corrupt buffoons shown in the above photo. These buffoons are completely incapable of governing our country; instead, they are collectively destroying it right before our very eyes!

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SP 4 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

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Baha10 4 years, 2 months ago

Does anyone else feel as if we are about to witness political history being made just before our 42nd Anniversary?!?

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ThisIsOurs 4 years, 2 months ago

Yeah...I'm thinking the knives are coming out, nobody wants to have this pinned on them. The first bad sign was the PM asking Dr Minnis to go to the meeting with him. That made NO sense. Made more sense for the PM to brief Dr Minnis separately to bring him up to date on what was going on. He's looking for a friendly face. The second bad sign is, nobody's heard from Brad yet. He's normally 2 seconds behind a story.

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a2z 4 years, 2 months ago

If you lied: you're deliberately deceitful. If you told the truth: you're grossly incompetent.

Mr. PM, I don't think you get a win anywhere in this.

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duppyVAT 4 years, 2 months ago

Did Brave Davis and the NolleAG write that press statement for the lameduck Prime Minister to read ........... Did anyone read that Nassau Guardian letter written by Orthland Bodie???????? These PLP sharks are lining up to eat Perry alive .................. we need to banish the PLP in the next general election for GOOD ..................... they are ruining this country and need to be purged

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Cobalt 4 years, 2 months ago

Our country has already been ruined. We are reaping that which we have sown. And the most frightening thing is...... things are about to get much worst for the Bahamas.

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Reality_Check 4 years, 2 months ago

The U.S. Department of Justice and certain agencies within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have been very closely monitoring, for quite sometime now, the conduct of six of the individuals shown in the photo to this article; five sitting and one standing. The cases have already been carefully built and are well-documented; in each case it's now only a question of the best time to mete out the appropriate actions warranted by U.S. national security interests. As the saying goes: "Not all bad conduct can be excused"; especially when it sits at the very door step of the United States of America. And "Yes", you may run but you can't hide; and the same holds true for one's financial assets today, no matter how many intermediaries and other jurisdictions may be involved. And "No", the U.S. Embassy in the Bahamas has not been, and will not be, fully briefed on key aspects of these cases. The pivot to Cuba has begun and, for obvious reasons, the Bahamas can be thanked in part for that rather sudden change in U.S. foreign policy.

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