0

No Payout For Foreign Worker At Baha Mar

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

PETER Lisosky was highly optimistic when he left his job in the United States in 2015 to work at Baha Mar.

But now, more than a year after he was made redundant, he is among a group of expatriates waiting to learn if they will receive compensation from the Claims Committee that the Christie administration established last year to administer ex-gratia payments provided by the China Export-Import Bank (EXIM).

The committee previously announced that all foreign former employees of Baha Mar would receive some compensation, but Mr Lisosky, who worked in the Food & Beverage

Department at Baha Mar, says he and other former foreign Baha Mar employees have not yet been paid - nor can they get in contact with committee officials.

The Christie administration has prioritised Bahamians when it comes to who receives a share of the $100m provided by the EXIM Bank, emphasising that its first obligation is to Bahamians and that under the former Chapter 11 bankruptcy process initiated by Baha Mar’s former leaders, employees would have likely received nothing at all.

But during correspondence with the Claims Committee last year Mr Lisosky and others were led to believe that they too would receive some compensation.

More than a month’s worth of emails and phone calls to officials of the committee have since gone unanswered.

“On December 30, (2016),” he said, “they said they were sorry for the delay and that a decision (on the payments) would be made on January 31 - that was our last contact. They had been pretty good at answering phone calls and emails before that. I’ve made maybe five attempts at reaching out to them since.”

Contacted yesterday, James Smith, chairman of the Claims Committee, encouraged The Tribune to direct its questions to an accountant on the Claims Committee, but that person could not be reached before press time.

Last year Mr Smith said former foreign employees of Baha Mar would receive a “high figure” compensation. He said yesterday that some such employees may have been left out so far.

During a previous court supervised bankruptcy proceeding, Mr Smith said, there were indications that a “special group of expats” deserved preferential treatment equivalent to creditors.

“No offer would have been made to those people until the court determined how to proceed,” he said, adding that he could not describe who belongs to this category.

For Mr Lisosky, regrets abound over his decision to accept the job at Baha Mar.

“I still don’t understand why one employee is different from another employee, regardless of national origin, but I understand what the government is trying to do,” Mr Lisosky said yesterday.

Mr Lisosky came to the Bahamas from Washington in 2015 “with high hopes and the best of intentions”. In March 2015, he said he worked 14 and 15-hour days in preparation for Baha Mar’s opening. He left the country in August, 2015, after he stopped working at the resort.

He got a call from a Baha Mar official in October of that year informing him that he had been made redundant. When he returned to the US, he moved from Washington to Florida where he now resides.

“One of my friends had a family with a wife and was ready to move down but then they stopped the payments,” he said.

Mr Lisosky has not been contacted about possibly being rehired by Baha Mar’s new team.

“Several of the folks are in my boat. We left jobs in the US to work at Baha Mar in good faith and we understand things happen but fair treatment and some pay, that’s what all of us are asking for,” he said. “I’m not trying to whine and not trying to be a problem I just want to know if something should be expected.”

Comments

djgross 2 years, 10 months ago

Thanks for publicizing this discriminatory payment plan. I am one of more than 200 expat employees who have yet to be paid overdue salary and severance per our contracts. Particularly frustrating is the lack of communications with us. Emails are not returned. Is this fair?

0

ForeignObserver 2 years, 10 months ago

The statement that under Chapter 11 employees stood to "receive likely nothing at all" does not make sense. Chapter 11 provides for a reorganization, not a liquidation, of an operating business and since employees are essential to the business's continued operation they are often paid in full under the Chapter 11 reorganization plan. Baha Mar had said it would have paid all employees in full, and that is logical since Baha Mar had invested substantial amounts training and relocating employees and it would little sense for Baha Mar to make them redundant and then start over with a new team.

0

mookwarrior 2 years, 10 months ago

But is it even really a liquidation? isn't the point of liquidation to liquidate assets to pay off debts? Sell some of those flat screens and mini refrigerators.

0

JenniferB 2 years, 10 months ago

In most cases, employees are prioritized in Chapter 11. I was unaware that the expatriate employees at Bahamar were somehow second class citizens? We worked hard to try and open Bahamar. Worked 16 hour days, 7 days a week for months. And the gratitude we got was being told we were redundant. We all have a letter stating we would be paid what we were owed, no one wants to work and then be told that their effort was worth nothing. I personally gave up a good job to move to the Bahamas. I came to help the country as a whole take advantage of such a fantastic opportunity. I made great friends, both Bahamian and foreign. I am still in touch with my staff and have continued to help them on their career path. Where in all of that have I slighted Bahamar or the country of the Bahamas to treat me in such a crude fashion. It is very disappointing that all that effort and sacrifice was for nought. Nobody wanted to leave, nobody wanted to give up, we all wanted to open Bahamar, and we were thrown out of the country with no help to return home and now we simply want what is fair.

1

BahamaPundit 2 years, 10 months ago

I have just spoken to a banker in the know and he has agreed that the reason the Bahamas wanted the liquidation here was for nefarious purposes. Certain persons that leased stores in Baha Mar were paid out for their loan in the bank by the Baha Mar claims personel. They could then pay the bank back the loan (say 10 million dollars) and retain their rental space, buildout and merchandise in the stores, so they received the stores free of charge. I'm sorry to say, but this whole fiasco is one big scam.

1

Well_mudda_take_sic 2 years, 10 months ago

When it comes to the fleecing of the Izmirlian family and most of the non-Chinese foreign creditors of Baha Mar, rumours remain rife that Crooked Christie and his son (the able one), and Allyson Maynard-Gibson and her daughters, were all involved (and may still be involved) in nefarious schemes of one kind or another to unjustly enrich the Christie family and Maynard-Gibson family bank accounts locally and abroad. Baltron (Bag Man) Bethel, James (Kiss Crisco Butt) Smith, Ray (Accommodating Accountant) Winder and others like them are all rumoured to have been key accomplices in the various scams that have left Sarkis Izmirlian and many of the non-Chinese foreign creditors of Baha Mar holding an empty bag.

1

ohdrap4 2 years, 10 months ago

these foreign workers will attract no sympathy.

remember folks, this is a country where women married to foreigners cannot even give their children citizenship, we are used to discrimination.

0

BahamaPundit 2 years, 10 months ago

I disagree ohdrap4. The Baha Mar fiasco is just beginning my friend. The countries these foreigners belong to will likely put the Bahamas on an investment black list. None of their citizens will be allowed to invest here and financial services with the Bahamas will be prohibited. They may even prevent their citizens from vacationing here, which would defeat the entire purpose of Baha Mar. This fiasco is going to be fought not in the courts but by governments. Mr. Christie had unleashed the Kraken.

1

djgross 2 years, 10 months ago

So far the US Embassy has not been involved, but that could change.

0

ConchyJ 2 years, 10 months ago

Why would any US citizen want to support the Bahamas after witnessing the unfair treatment of their fellow citizens? Fortunately there are other great alternatives like Cuba, BVI, Cancun/Cozumel, Puerto Rico, etc., etc., etc.......

1

OMG 2 years, 10 months ago

As a foreigner/expat there is a definite discrimination albeit unwritten. As a long time serving expat teacher of 40 years it was moved at the Bahamas Union of Teachers Annual General Meeting several years ago that long serving expat teachers be entitled to a teachers pension like their Bahamian colleagues. The overwhelming cries of "no" and "no way" resounded through the conference hall. And guess what the slogan of this union clearly displayed and shouted at the end of each meeting is "solidarity". If this country ever aspires to be first world then they need to start acting in a humane and legal manner. I wondered in my case and that of other expat teachers (very few in number) who decided to make the country their home why we doing the same job as our Bahamian colleagues and more in many cases should we be second class when retiring or legally and morally entitled to any other benefits.

0

Expat349 2 years, 10 months ago

I am also among the expat group owed monies for salary, severance, expenses and unused earned time-- having Baha Mar not acknowledge any or "some" of us is also unacceptable. There is and never should be differential treatment amongst anyone owed money for work performed regardless of where they are from.. the commitment was made, the work was done, time was earned and the money is owed. The circumstances were unfortunate but seem to be on the right path which is great for the country and the people, that was the goal! The committee and/ or government taking the approach they have is beyond disheartening.. I'm certain if any of the committee members or government officials performed work under a contract and were not paid they would have much to say and be left with a bad taste in their mouth as well...

0

Sign in to comment