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‘Winding Up Order Is A Tit For Tat Move’

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K Peter Turnquest

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

FNM Deputy Leader Peter Turnquest has suggested that the Christie administration chose to file a Supreme Court petition to wind up Baha Mar as a reactionary jab at the resort’s developer, Sarkis Izmirlian, who shocked many when he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the resort in a US Delaware Court several weeks ago.

The government has said the bankruptcy filing came “without notice”, as the relevant parties were said to be in the midst of good faith negotiations about the project’s future when the move was made.

Mr Turnquest was sceptical of the government’s latest action, however, saying it may not have been in the best interest of Baha Mar’s employees.

His comments came after Prime Minister Perry Christie revealed on Thursday night that following unfruitful negotiations between representatives of Baha Mar, the government, China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC) and the Export-Import Bank of China, Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson filed a petition in the Supreme Court to wind up the company.

Under such a move, independent, provisional liquidators would be appointed by the court to supervise the winding up process.

Mr Turnquest told The Tribune on Friday: “(This) seems to be a case of one-upmanship at the expense of the workers. A series of questions results though. How long does the government anticipate the winding up process to take? Will the workers continue to be paid during that period?

“If so, what is our security for recovery? Why did the attorney general come back if negotiations are ongoing (in China between the other parties, as Baha Mar has claimed)? Would it not have been better to allow the US (bankruptcy court) action to go through as salaries would be guaranteed and a resolution may be quicker? If the government is making an application for winding up, are they arranging the financing to complete the project? If so, with whom, and is the government putting up the guarantee Sarkis did not want to put up?”

In his address to the nation, Mr Christie said Baha Mar was not prepared to agree to terms set forth during negotiations in China. Among those terms included a move to discontinue its Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceeding and its legal action in the United Kingdom against general contractor China Construction America, a subsidiary of CSCEC China.

Reacting to Mr Christie’s announcements on Friday, Baha Mar officials described his statements as misleading.

“The Bahamian government’s decision to seek a winding up of Baha Mar is both unnecessary and reactionary, puts Baha Mar’s staff and assets at severe risk, and significantly jeopardises the future of the resort,” a statement from the resort said.

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