Questions, more questions. Malcolm J Strachan pleads for answers from the government over the Baha Mar creditors process.
It’s been an interesting week watching our Government’s handling of Baha Mar blow up in their face once again.
Every time we make the unorthodox decision to put our “trust” in them, we are left holding a steaming bag of excrement.
Today marks 21 days since the Prime Minister announced to the nation that the Government had reached an historic deal that would secure the rights of all Bahamian creditors who are owed millions of dollars at Baha Mar.
The Bahamian people were denied any specifics about this “deal” and learned to their horror that any documentation proving anything the Prime Minister had said was sealed in the courts at the request of both the Government of the Bahamas, and the Export-Import Bank of China (CEXIM).
Bahamians, knowing their Prime Minister and his propensity for cameras, dismissed his latest tale as yet another example of “Perry crying wolf”. After all, we’ve been promised so much by this Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) on Baha Mar that we have to wait for the other parties involved to say it before we believe it.
And so they did.
On Friday, CEXIM decided that they had had enough of the Government of the Bahamas’ promises and antics. They released, via their Frequently Asked Questions section on the Claims Committee’s website what was tantamount to a complete rebuttal to what the Prime Minister had announced on August 22.
Question 13 on their newly revised list shows who is really in control here. Despite the assurances and the promises from our Government, the Chinese bank, and by default the Government of China, has made it clear that no one, regardless of what the Prime Minister would have said three weeks ago, is guaranteed a red cent!
This question and answer that they freely promoted on their website read:
Question: Am I guaranteed a payment?
Answer: No. There is no assurance that you will receive any payment at all. No creditor has any legal entitlement to the funds being administered by the Committee.
When we saw this we had to go back to what our Prime Minister said and compare notes. Surely, someone had us out to be a horse’s ass.
Prime Minister Christie said, no longer than three weeks ago, that one of his three main objectives had been achieved, namely that this agreement he reached with CEXIM had “ensured” payment for Bahamian creditors and contractors.
So who is lying to us? Which party should we believe?
But it gets worse.
Their answer to this most basic of questions went on to add that if you were so lucky to receive a payment on monies that you are legitimately owed, it will be dependent upon “consideration for concessions and consents by the Government”.
To put this in laymen’s terms, you will be paid some pennies when the Chinese get their hundreds of millions - if not billions - of dollars in concessions that they have demanded. Failing that, you get nothing. Take it or leave it.
In addition, their timing to announce this little “tweak” in diplomacy occurred on a Friday - which as we all know is crisis communications 101 i.e. “wait until the weekend to break the bad news”.
Now we see why the Government is spending millions of dollars on three international public relations and image consulting firms - to hoodwink us once again.
If these FAQs were really meant to answer and allay concerns of Bahamian unsecured creditors, it should only make everyone that much more doubtful and leery of the ad hoc process that the Government has either joined with the Chinese bank and contractor in perpetrating against the Bahamians or in which the government has been sadly corralled to lending its name to by the Chinese.
What the FAQs make abundantly clear is that this committee and its objectives is not to serve the monies owed unsecured creditors, but rather the Chinese bank and contractors’ efforts to sweep this most major of all issues - the welfare of all Bahamians - aside to continue to promote the Chinese self-economic interest and agenda for the Bahamas.
Specifically, what the FAQs now clarify is that Bahamian unsecured creditors find themselves in a position where they are being strong armed into accepting crumbs for the good faith services, products and labor they provided to Baha Mar. They are being told that they also must give up to the Chinese and the government their ability to rightfully pursue any legitimate fair avenue to realise what they are owed.
Just think about that.
A FAQ section on a website by any definition is meant to provide information that answers questions about uncertainty regarding a particular process or issue. This FAQ list actually provides questions and answers that only raise more questions about how the Government of the Bahamas and the Chinese are trying to both fool and fleece the people of the Bahamas.
For those who have yet to read this latest version of the website for yourselves (claimsspv.net), here are the takeaways and questions.
- The assertion that Baha Mar is insolvent completely misses the point at the heart of the matter. The bottom line is that the government sabotaged a chapter 11 process that contemplated full payment to creditors, including unsecured and Bahamian creditors. As part of all chapter 11 proceedings, unsecured creditors are given an opportunity for a recovery through the courts and are provided with the rights to pursue this recovery in a fair manner.
- If Baha Mar is truly insolvent, why isn’t this process moving into a full liquidation so that the assets of Baha Mar (including the litigation in the UK) can be monetised so that the money can be properly distributed by an independent liquidator rather than an ad hoc Chinese committee that provides no rights to creditors and forces them to take this deal or stand to lose their claim?
- Is there a deal to sell Baha Mar? Is the price greater than the bank’s loan? Or is the bank getting pennies on the dollar for their investment? If there truly is a deal to sell Baha Mar, these answers would be easy to provide and would give the necessary insight into whether the creditors are being fairly compensated for their claims. If the sale is for an amount that is lesser than the loan, then is this a really good deal for Bahamians?
- Does this committee being in existence mean that there is no interest in the property? What happened in the Deloitte bidding process? Why is this fund being contemplated now?
- How does the government know what the disbursement to creditors should be without monetising or at least evaluating the value of the assets?
- Is this committee a way for the bank to forward its best interests by buying all of the outstanding claims on the project? If they were able to find a buyer for the project, the project would be made solvent by default.
- Why are there no creditors on the committee? Why do they receive no representation?
The real question for all Bahamians, including Baha Mar employees and unsecured creditors, is when will the government come clean on what it is really up to and what it needed to give up to our new Chinese masters in order to secure this inadequate “fund”.
Our Prime Minister has been made to look like a laughing stock for too long in this matter. It would be in his interest, his party’s interest, and more importantly, the country’s interest if they walked away from this deal before we get too deep into a hole from which we cannot escape.
The writing is already on the wall. We would be wise to correct course before we are all doomed.
• Comments and responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.