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Dispute In Row Over Airport Rent

FORMER Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin.

FORMER Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin.

By KHRISNA VIRGIL

Deputy Chief Reporter

kvirgil@tribunemedia.net

THE $1.2m write-off of a tenant’s $3.3m rent arrears at the Lynden Pindling International Airport was part of a resolution to a complex matter through several administrations caused in part by challenges that arose when airport traffic projections made by the Nassau Airport Development Company Ltd (NAD) did not materialise, former Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin said yesterday.

The Englerston MP explained that the tenant, PatMor Holdings, entered into leaseholds at a time when NAD faced a serious dilemma with the previous tenant and that this new lease was assumed when the outstanding arrears from the prior tenant for several of the units was already at a significant level.

In addition, Mrs Hanna Martin said challenges emerged when traffic projections made by NAD did not materialise upon which revenue projections were made by the tenant. Finally there were also questions as to whether the tenant in question was paying a higher interest rate than other tenants.

Following an audit by Kikivarakis & Co where all these matters were considered and recommendations made, former NAD Chairman Anthony McKinney, QC, said in September 2016 principle terms were agreed to resolve the longstanding issue.

These included: the sum of $1.2m from the total assessed rents be written off and the arrears of the rent in the amount of $2.2m be paid off under certain conditions.

PatMor was also to pay $800,000 within 90 days after execution of the deed of settlement, which was to be prepared by NAD’s attorneys and the balance of the arrears and interest was to be repayable on terms to be further discussed and agreed among other things. The deed of settlement was signed in early March 2017, while the parties agreed to the terms of settlement between later January and early February, Mr McKinney has said.

Tourism Minister Dionisio D’Aguilar raised the matter in the House of Assembly last Thursday with accusations that Patricia Mortimer, the owner of PatMor Holdings, was allowed to rack up a rental debt over five years under the Christie administration and was allowed to remain delinquent due to “direct intervention by the political directorate”. He said this tenant had five stores in the airport.

While the minister did not name the tenant in the House of Assembly last week, he claimed that she approached NAD’s board of directors two months before the general election and was allowed to enter into an agreement to “write off” $1.2m of this debt on the condition that she give up one store and pay her balance.

He suggested that this was done as a personal favour extended to the tenant because she was well-connected politically and questioned why the woman was not evicted from the airport despite “five years” of not paying rent.

The minister explained that this was the reason NAD’s board was dismissed shortly after the Free National Movement won the May 10 general election. However, Mr McKinney has denied this, saying the board resigned. He has made letters public to substantiate this claim.

Questions

Given the particulars of the resolution to the matter, Mrs Hanna Martin questioned whether the minister had apprised himself of what took place, adding that it was “very unfortunate” that he sought to cast aspersions on the former NAD board, in a place where they could not defend themselves.

“The new minister alleged impropriety on the part of the board which comprises respected Bahamian men and women, from various professional backgrounds and in respect of which each has distinguished him or herself; that board also includes the CEO of Vantage Group of Companies. It is very regrettable,” the MP said in a statement yesterday.

She also said: “I am concerned whether the new minister apprised himself of these facts before he made such an unfortunate assessment of the board. I am further advised that this board did as the previous board did under an FNM administration, namely to work with the tenant towards a resolution.

“In light of the circumstances surrounding this matter and the minister’s allegation in the Parliament where these persons cannot defend themselves or legally challenge the minister, the minister must now be put to proof.

“The minister further seems to suggest that the tenant’s holding of multiple leases is evidence of some irregular dealings when he ought to know that there are other tenants who also have multiple leases but the minister apparently does not deem this strange.

“It seems that what he believes to be the political stripes of this particular tenant creates a problem in his perception in this regards. This is also very worrisome.

“The new minister should also know that the minister responsible for aviation is responsible for relations with the Airport Authority (AA) board and NAD and has no responsibility for or jurisdiction in the day-to-day activities of those boards.

“Any possible or remote suggestion or hinted implication that the prior minister sought to exercise influence in this decision-making is not true,” she said.

Defence

Mr McKinney maintained yesterday that during the course of the negotiations with PatMor to resolve the outstanding rent dispute, there was no direction or instruction from the former minister of transportation and aviation or from any other minister or politician directing the board on how to proceed with the settlement discussions.

He also said he “wholly” disagreed with Mr D’Aguilar’s statement in the House of Assembly regarding his characterisation of the board’s conduct with respect to the PatMor matter as well as with respect to the termination of the board’s tenure as directors of AA and NAD.

“As chairman of AA and NAD, I—and most, if not all, of the other members—submitted our resignations to both boards on May 16, 2017 or shortly thereafter.

“I most definitely submitted my resignation to both the Hon Frankie Campbell, minister of transport and local government and the Hon Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation on May 16, 2017. I sent it to both ministers as I was uncertain under which ministry the NAD’s portfolio would be managed.”

A letter dated May 16, 2017 and sent to both ministers read: “As you are aware, I was first appointed for one year to act as chairman of the Airport Authority on July 1, 2012. This appointment, by inference, meant that I would also act as chair of the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited. As of today those appointments continue.

“Technically, my current term as chairman of the above boards is due to expire on June 30, 2017, however, protocol dictates that I should tender my resignation from both boards at this time as my appointments were made by another minister and executive.”

On May 17, the minister of transport and local government replied: “I hereby acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated May 16, 2017, regarding the above-captioned subject.

“Please be advised that the contents of this matter has been discussed with the Hon Dionisio D’Aguilar, and we both agreed that you should continue as chairman of the above boards until Cabinet further advises.”

Several days later on June 8, Mr McKinney said he was in communication with the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation who enquired whether members of the boards had tendered resignations. The former chairman said he intimated from this conversation that Cabinet was prepared to proceed with their new appointments, prompting him to write another letter to the tourism minister confirming his resignation.

“For the avoidance of doubt as of today’s date I hereby tender my resignation, with immediate effect, from the boards of both the Airport Authority and the Nassau Airport Development Company Limited,” the letter read.

Comments

DDK 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Tribune, did the HOA meet on Sunday? The date of this report is captioned "as of Monday, 19th June, 2017". Your report opens with a sentence which states ".................former Transport and Aviation Minister Glenys Hanna Martin said yesterday". We can only assume she was in the HOA as the background wall colour of the accompanying photo is green!

A little more clarity would be appreciated as there is enough obfuscation on the part of G. Hanna-Martin when referring to the murky deeds of she and her Pillage Loot Plunder cohorts as it is.

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banker 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The online Tribune will use a picture 20-30 times and several years old.

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birdiestrachan 5 months, 3 weeks ago

D'Aguilar tells lies in the hope that he will appear to know what he is doing. Only the good Lord knows what lies he told to the people who voted for him. He benefits from the duty of commercial washing machines so good for him ..They shall see what their benefits are soon enough.

The Man mouth goes 100 miles per hour while his brain is in park. It is the peoples time what people. perhaps those who wash at his wash houses.

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HarryWyckoff 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Birdie - please buy this book, read it, study it, and learn from it.

Idiot's Guide to Grammar and Punctuation

Your D- school education doesn't mean you can't actually try to learn later in life.

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MassExodus 5 months, 3 weeks ago

LMAO very true. Possibly the worst several lines I have ever seen composed. That is more like a straight F.

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banker 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Arrears are arrears. It means money owed. Hanna Martin is trying to cloud the issue with all sorts of BS. The FNM is now bringing out all of the fiscal malfeasance of the PLP to light and the PLP hemorrhoids are twisting themselves into pretzels trying to explain away their criminal actions.

Reminds me of the story of Perry Christie walks into a bar with a frog on his head. The bartender says "Hey, where did you get that?".

The frog replied "It started out as a pimple on my rectum."

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sheeprunner12 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The reality is that the PLP elite feel a certain entitlement to be exempted from paying bills in this country ........... We have seen this same thing played out over and over again

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screwedbahamian 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Any company subject to this kind of Board of Directors philosophy could not and would not survive in a legitimate Corporate business in any fourth world country, A tenant does not pay rent for 5 years ( 60 months) and they are still allowed to proceed as business as usual, apparently until months before a general election.Certainly one or more of the Directors being esteem business people having accepted and entrusted with protecting the Bahamian people tax monies and ensuring ALL BAHAMIANS are treated fairly in doing so would have should have resigned forthwith. This Board of directors have certainly failed and should refrain from accepting any such position on behalf of the Bahamian people again. Seem like sister government agencies of AA and NAD all was being ran very similar. "THESE ARE TEACHABLE MOMENTS "

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

It is not unusual to write off rent when there is a dispute between landlord and tenant of if the landlord feels the move will allow the tenant (if he/she is a good one) to bring their rent up to date and get back in good standing. If fact if you go to court for rent arrears as a landlord or as a tenant, most judges will stand the case down and ask the party to try reach an agreement. For legal entities in the US, they would ask that you seek arbitration before bringing the case to trial. But there has to be some benefit to the landlord for writing off rent arrears. In this case it appears the move was more political. Giving up one of five stores, three of which you shouldn't have in the first place is no benefit. And after the 'agreement ' the tenant did not seem to bring her rent up to date or even pay current rent as it became due. So the traveling John Q Public must now pay as NAD continues to increase passenger fees as well as fees for airlines that operate out of LPIA. Airports like Ft. Lauderdale has virtually eliminated retail space in the main airport terminals so once passengers complete checking in they will proceed to the gates. So not only will the stores at the gates experience higher traffic but they can also charge higher prices to a captive audience. On the other some airports like ones in Charlotte and Atlanta have grown their retail space to almost shopping mall levels. The same with the dining experience, so much so that many passengers are left wishing they had more time to spend at the airport and those having long layovers have a lot to do before getting bored

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banker 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The penalty for rent arrears is eviction. You call the bailiffs. Then you go to court to get the money owed you after you toss out the welchers, spongers and deadbeats.

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Gotoutintime 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The past Government rationalized their actions by saying "I'm running the Country, I don't have to pay"----Very sad and immature!

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proudloudandfnm 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Our traffic in Port Lucaya is down 95% because Hutchison Whampoa was allowed to abandon our hotels. But we still have to pay rent...

Mrs. Hanna-Martin is full of it...

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Publius 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The actions of the PLP do not negate responsibilities of Ministers in the Parliament. I too, wish to see the Minister of Tourism table proof of his comments, because it does not appear that the Cabinet fired the board as the Minister claims, and he also needs to state who the PLP Minister was who he claims gave instructions in this regard. The FNM cannot be expected to do as it wishes in the Parliament by using the excuse that the PLP has done such and so.

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licks2 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Stop being a PLP. . .that board's term of reference ended end of June. . .the whole board resigned 16th May. . .no other board ever do that. . .that why they are kept until end of June. . .the new government has to get its new boards together before the old boards leave by end of June!

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TalRussell 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Comrades! There are a solid four quick shoot off their mouths red shirts cabinet ministers that will bring much embarrassment to to Her Majesty's Crown.... but there are the two top ministers who rank number one and number two - when it comes discharging things from they mouths that shouldn't even pass out whilst underling a bowel movement motion. Obtain some previously recorded talk show tapes when they appeared as guests - discover how these two man's thinks they're the smartest individuals in any room.

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Baha10 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Business 101 - Pay your Bills!

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Economist 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Please give us the name of the previous tenant. This might be most interesting. Was there any relationship with the previous tenant and Pat Mortimer?

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The name of the previous tenant was revealed today on radio talk shows. He had two international franchises operating at the airport but after a dispute with his business partners they pulled out. He tried to operate under the Kafe Kalik brand but apparently the overhead was too high so he gave the spaces up. May still be operating in Freeport airport along with some other ventures.

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

One of the franchises was located at the foot of the old PI bridge

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John 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Now operating under a different owner at The Mall at Marathon....chairman of the DNA

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MassExodus 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Let's tell it how it is... . Patricia Mortimer gets awarded (unfairly) a monopoly on the news/soft good stores at the airport, I am not 100% sure but I will guess by the PLP in 2012. . Then because the PLP fuck up Baha Mar and screw Sarkis, less than half the air-traffic projected is arriving for a few years, thus Patricia Mortimer's stores suffer. Boo-fucking-hooo. There is no guarantee in business and the PLP should have not interveinied and bailed her out! AS A MATTER OF FACT WHY DID SHE HAVE THIS MANY STORES in the first place. What happened to spreading the wealth, and creating competition, and not a monopoly. . I understand Patricia Mortimer also was quite high up in the Red Cross; I also understand that the Red Cross was deemed a non-profit not to donate to, due to devious and manipulative 'fund-raising.' . That is all.

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OMG 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Based on one of her excuses that revenue did not meet rental expenditure, I guess every Bahmian business not making a profit can negotiate a reduced business and VAT rate to help them out. A as for documentation, we all know that these crooked dealings are done under the table, word of mouth, threats etc.

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Voltaire 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Utter bullship. The airport tenants' agreement states explicitly that NAD cannot guarantee their tourism projections. This is a total farce. Hanna-Martin should be ashamed of herself - that is, if PLPs are actually capable of shame.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

The information presented by Daguilar did an injustice to both persons targeted. In the NAD case, I thought I understood that she was paying the 10% rate the other tenants were paying, but refused to pay the ~3% additional over and above what everyone else was paying, the ~3% was the source of the dispute. DAguilar made it appear that she hadn't paid any rent in years. The money that was written off was money owed by another tenant, DAguilar made it appear that it was money due from PatMore DAguilar needs to come to the House and clear all of this up and apologize for presenting very sloppy information.

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

ROTFL that would not be nice LOL

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licks2 5 months, 3 weeks ago

You are saying that the minister een making sense. . .she refused to pay on the contract she signed. . .but only in the last five years that the PLP came to power. . .she being a PLP high council member? And if she took over from her previous owner. . .assuming his liabilities. . .got the shops and then demanded that she will not pay as agreed? YOU NEED TO CHECK YA SEF. . .COS YOON MAKING NO SENSE. . .

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ThisIsOurs 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I actually didn't even speak to her having to pay the bill because that's a given. (I'm convinced people read the first line then make an assumption on everything else you're going to say)

I don't think people really get the seriousness of misusing parliament. I was more upset that Daguilar got me upset based on erroneous information than I was at the actual situation. I thought he came with facts. Something as simple as the board resigning and being asked to stay on, seriously???

I pointed out additional information that made the situation less theatrical than daguilar made it out to be. My point was, he should not have been this irresponsible in parliament. I tend to be analytical (sometimes...), I can get angry too, but I don't blindly follow the crowd, the behaviour I see here, isn't far off from what Fitzgerald did. And the information was so easy to get....

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