By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
BAHA Mar’s developer, BMD Holdings, said it is “astounding” that nearly one year after engaging with China Construction America and China Export Import Bank in “sabotaging” the resort’s Chapter 11 case in the United States, the Christie administration has suddenly paid two law firms to craft hypothetical justifications for the government’s “ready-fire-aim” actions concerning the $3.5bn resort.
In a strong rebuke of the Christie administration, BMD Holdings said among the many “head scratching” statements made by Prime Minister Perry Christie in Parliament on Wednesday is the startling hypothetical assertion by the government’s paid US and UK attorneys that there was “no realistic prospect that the Baha Mar debtors could raise” the capital to reorganise and open Baha Mar.
However, in a press statement, BMD moved to show flaws with the position put forward by the government hired lawyers, saying it is completely at odds with the prime minister’s statement on April 13, 2016 that “clearly Izmirlian comes from a family that isn’t short on money.”
The developer maintained that it also runs counter to the fact that developer Sarkis Izmirlian has already invested almost $1 billion in the Baha Mar project.
Back in April, Mr Christie was adamant that Mr Izmirlian was “deserving of every consideration” regarding his newly submitted plans for the resort to EXIM. At the time, Mr Christie said he recently met with the developer to discuss “a number of new offers” to the bank and had written officials to confirm that they received the new plans.
He had made the comments in an interview broadcast on Our News and said he had also inquired as to whether the EXIM Bank planned to give consideration to these offers.
“The government of The Bahamas,” the statement read, “instead of supporting the Chapter 11 process, which is designed to achieve a consensual resolution of the issues by all parties, instead wanted to use the Bahamian court to wind up/liquidate Baha Mar to assure that the interests of the Chinese enterprises were best preserved even though this resulted in hundreds of unsecured Bahamian creditors not being paid and left without a voice in this process, unlike the Chapter 11 proceedings.
“The public record since the government’s ill-conceived opposition to the Chapter 11 has turned up documentation revealing duplicity, misconduct, and unquestionable failure to perform by CCA. The very company that failed to deliver Baha Mar despite multiple promises and whom the government of The Bahamas supports instead of the developer.”
The statement continued: “Among the many head-scratching statements made by the prime minister in Parliament, one that is particularly startling is the hypothetical assertion by the government’s paid legal advisors that there was ‘no realistic prospect that the Baha Mar debtors could raise’ the capital to reorganise and open Baha Mar. Yet this hypothetical is completely at odds with the prime minister’s statement on April 13 of this year that ‘clearly Izmirlian comes from a family that isn’t short on money.’ It also runs counter to the fact that Mr Izmirlian has already invested almost $1 billion in the Baha Mar project.
“The flaws in the government’s paid-for Chapter 11 analysis one year later by two law firms are so numerous that it is hard to understand how the government of The Bahamas could abide by this analysis or why it would present this analysis to Parliament now.
“The government of The Bahamas is reaping what it has sown. Baha Mar is not built. Baha Mar is not open. And, while CEXIM under the winding up/liquidation process has been able to protect its interest in Baha Mar, no Bahamian unsecured creditors have been paid and many Bahamians remain shamefully unpaid and out of work.”
BMD further moved to again explain its decision to undertake Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, saying Baha Mar’s board of directors undertook this process because it provided the resort the opportunity to achieve a plan of reorganisation to enable it to be completed and successfully opened as soon as possible.
“Such a process does not exist in The Bahamas. Unlike the Chapter 11 process, in which the debtor is given the time to reorganise its business under the supervision of the court, CEXIM now has complete control of the potential completion of the Baha Mar property under the present winding up/liquidation process while unsecured creditors are left twisting in the wind.”
“The government of The Bahamas’ opposition of the Chapter 11 has now left unsecured creditors out in the cold and enabled China EXIM Bank to unilaterally assert complete control over the Baha Mar property. Just in the last few days the government confirmed that there is no certainty that Bahamian creditors will receive any payment, as the Chinese have no obligation to make such a payment,” the statement read.
On Wednesday, as he closed the 2016/2017 Budget debate, Mr Christie said he intended to dispel myths and speculation of how the government handled the Baha Mar situation.
He then read into the record of the House of Assembly summaries of events from the government’s international attorneys - US law firm Hogan Lovells and UK firm Charles Russell Speechlys LLP. Both were dated June 20, 2016.
The UK based attorneys pointed out that Mr Izmirlian was without funds and his promises of funding were without foundation.
Hogan Lovells said the filings enabled the developer to temporarily retain control of Baha Mar rather than relinquishing control to independent liquidators or receivers.
The firm argued that had the Chapter 11 case continued, the filings would have enabled the Baha Mar debtors to assume or reject continuing contracts, deciding which to retain and which to discard generally leaving the counter parties to discarded contracts with nothing more than unsecured damage claims.
In the House of Assembly, Fort Charlotte MP Dr Andre Rollins rejected this, saying the government had paid its attorneys to speak in favour of its decision to collude with the Chinese, adding that he viewed this as an attempt to mislead the public by the prime minister.