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Still No Letter Of Intent From Baha Mar Buyer

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

Former Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE government has still not received a letter of intent from prospective buyer of Baha Mar, Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE), to operate the casino at the $3.5bn West Bay Street development, according to Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe yesterday.

The minister, who has responsibility for gaming, said this is because CTFE is in the midst of “finalising arrangements with the state, the Bahamas government and the operators” of Baha Mar.

Once this phase is complete, Mr Wilchcombe said he expects to receive the LOI at “any moment now”.

Last week, former Baha Mar Director Dionisio D’Aguilar charged that CTFE was “unsuited to invest in The Bahamas”.

He went on to raise alarm over the Cheng Yu Tung family’s inability to obtain casino licensing in two US states, and its alleged “well-documented connection to organised crime in Asia”.

The “well-documented connection” likely refers to the Cheng family’s – owners of CTFE – link to billionaire Stanley Ho through its stake in Macau group STDM.

Mr Ho and his associates have reportedly been unsuccessful in attempts to expand gaming interests into Australia, Canada and other countries due to alleged associations with Chinese triad gangs in his Macau casinos.

At the time, Mr Wilchcombe insisted that upon receipt of the LOI, the government would begin due diligence on the Hong Kong conglomerate to ensure that any decision made is in the best interest of the country, the Bahamian people, and the gaming industry.

He explained that the government had only had two preliminary meetings with CTFE.

“We have had preliminary meetings with the group,” Mr Wilchcombe told The Tribune. “We are aware that they are operating in several countries as partners in casinos, and as operators in others.

“We’ve met with them twice, just to determine the extent of their involvement globally. They have major brands under their company, so we were very enthused by that,” he said previously. “Of course we will do our due diligence to ensure whatever decisions are made, are made in the interest of not only the Bahamas and Bahamian people but also the integrity of Bahamian gaming jurisdiction.”

In late October, Mr Wilchcombe said the due diligence process will take at least three weeks.

CTFE later refuted assertions that it was “unsuited to invest in the country,” stating its commitment to integrity and good governance in business operations worldwide.

The enterprise said it has never applied for a casino licence in the United States, and as such, has never been denied by that jurisdiction.

CTFE emphasised that it is a privately held business that identified the Bahamas as a “unique growth opportunity.”

CTFE said: “CTFE has never applied for a casino license in the US and, a consortium including CTFE has just been approved for the granting of a casino license in Queensland, Australia.

“Further, the Cheng family is an investor in Sociedade de Turismo e Diversões de Macau (STDM), which owns the gaming subsidiary, SJM Holdings Ltd (SJM).

“In addition, the Cheng family’s role in the Macau casino is strictly as an investor with no involvement in day-to-day management of the casino or oversight of the gaming industry in Macau.

“As a company, we are committed to integrity and good governance in all of our business operations worldwide. There will be no affiliation on this project with STDM or SJM,” the conglomerate added.

It was revealed that CTFE was in talks over the troubled Cable Beach resort two weeks ago in a statement issued by the Hong Kong-based firm.

Comments

banker 2 years, 7 months ago

Maybe they saw the shoddy rooms filled with rice poop.

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by banker

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alfalfa 2 years, 7 months ago

So, what else is new? Construction was supposed to already re-started according to our illustrious Prime Minister. He painted a picture of a "done deal" now he has Obie doing the dirty work of admitting how premature his announcement was. This project was and is a disgrace for our country's reputation from the start. And for God's sake can someone please take down the stupid plastic flags off the top of this dinosaur.

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TalRussell 2 years, 7 months ago

Comrades! You don't realize how many people will believe what they read these days originating out of the PLP government's propaganda machine the Bahamaland's Information Service (BIS).
This is just another predication issued on behalf of a minister who has been wrong on just about every other predication he has made - like Cabbage Beach was to be returned back to the native Beach Vendors. That Baha Mar would have opened like some 2 years ago, or that the Numbers Houses revenues flowing into the Peoples Public Treasury was to be operated under full public transparency.
That soon after the 2012 General, Freeport's strained economy would begin to show great signs of an economic recovery resulting from the PLP government's focus on Grand Bahama.
Then there is still that still unsolved mystery surrounding taxpayers $650,000 funding of the failed Caribbean Muzik Festival?
The horrible thing about these predictions is it seems to matter not a good damn, if they're accurate or not as there is no accountable to follow.
Wasn't there even a prediction of this minister running to succeed the current office holder of the nation's prime minister?

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watcher 2 years, 7 months ago

Mr Ho and his associates have reportedly been unsuccessful in attempts to expand gaming interests into Australia, Canada and other countries due to alleged associations with Chinese triad gangs in his Macau casinos

. Great - just what we needed. Now we can look forward to the Pointe being filled with the criminal underbelly of China, and gangs of triads terrorising the Bahamas from the comfort of their luxurious downtown condos. This, together with giving the Chinese our land and fishing, is definitely the end for law-abiding citizens.

2017 cannot come soon enough

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sealice 2 years, 7 months ago

I guess the PLP did their behind the scenes due diligence already because people started working landscaping out there this week. So if we have no commitment who's paying the salaries of the people out there working today? Really REALLY want to know dat??

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OMG 2 years, 7 months ago

Wait for more and more statements of various schemes due to start before the election, and ionce back in power --poof -gone.

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TalRussell 2 years, 7 months ago

Comrades! Minister Obadiah has introduced a whole new wrinkle into the reoccurring Baha Mah drama. Just when you thought there had done been a "green light" given to a new owner of the stalled Cable Beach's Resort, it's now confirmed that the PLP government, never was in receipt of a Letter Of Intent (LOI) from what the public was led to believe that the buyer of Baha Mar, was the "loaded with cash" Hong Kong-based Chow Tai Fook Enterprises (CTFE)? department to be paying the "work permit" warm live human bodies spotted performing "paid work tasks" on site at Baha Mar?
Maybe it is time for the entire PLP Cabinet to take a deep breath and rethink, if Chow Tai Fook is in fact Baha Mar's Buyer?

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TalRussell 2 years, 7 months ago

.....You'd think that Somebody has to be answerable to the Immigration Department to be paying the "work permit" warm live human bodies spotted performing "paid work tasks" on site at Baha Mar?.....

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