Sir William’s son hits back in $144k dispute




Tribune Business Editor


A son of the late Sir William Allen yesterday denied that his father owed a $144,000 debt to a local businessman, and argued that any obligation to repay hinges on a “deal” that has not yet closed.

Andrew Allen, an attorney by profession, alleged to Tribune Business that the sum claimed by Tony Myers, who previously held leasehold rights to Ocean Cay for aragonite mining before it was taken over by Mediterranean Shipping Company for its private cruise port, was an “investment” as opposed to a loan made to the former Bahamian finance minister.

Refuting Mr Myers’ assertion that the $144,000 was a past due and “outstanding” loan due to him, Mr Allen countered that the disputed sum was instead an investment by the businessman in efforts by Sir William, himself and others - who he declined to name - to obtain title ownership to the 163-acre Crab Cay island in the Abacos.

Mr Allen said efforts to obtain title via the “quieting” process, and then develop and/or sell the island, had become bogged down after local TV/radio personality and activist, Rodney Moncur, had filed an “adverse possession” claim on behalf of two of his aunts alleging they had ownership rights to land on Crab Cay.

Sir William’s son said Mr Moncur had initially agreed to work with himself and the others to sell and develop the island, located north of Green Turtle Cay, but then had second thoughts and backed away from the deal.

As a result, efforts to “quiet” title on Crab Cay have stalled and, as a result, Mr Allen and his late father’s estate are arguing that any obligation to repay Mr Myers has not yet been fulfilled.

Pointing out that the Supreme Court legal battle is still ongoing, with Mr Myers having been given 21 days by Justice Ian Winder to submit a revised claim, Mr Allen said the only decisions taken thus far were to remove himself as a defendant and strike out the businessman’s demand that Sir William’s estate pay him $66,000 in interest on the basis that this was “usury”.

And Mr Allen also took exception to Mr Myers’ description of the relationship he had with the late Sir William. The businessman had told this newspaper that “Sir William and I were really good friends for many years. We did many investments together, and I helped him out for 20 years in many, many ways”, describing the former finance minister and his wife as “fantastic people”.

However, Mr Allen blasted: “His characterisation of his relationship with my father is deeply erroneous. I find it somewhat offensive he characterised his friendship with my father in that way because that is not the case. My father for decades extended all kinds of help to him and others pursuing their personal interests...

“He’s speaking as if my father owed him money. Our position is these are not outstanding loans. And these are subject to an ongoing business deal that has not been concluded. We have a very different take on it.”

Mr Allen added: “I’d like to put this on record. I didn’t question my father’s friendships in his lifetime, but my father’s choice of friends was very different from mine, and Mr Myers is not a friend of mine.

“He was a fixture in my father’s life seeking constant help.... He’s a guy who relied on my father, and relied on him to do things for him.” Mr Myers, in his original action, alleged he was owed $144,000 that was advanced to Sir William in small sums between September 8, 2008, and October 13, 2011, and secured via a promissory note signed in 2012.

He did not contest the assertion that the $66,000 interest detailed in the promissory note breached the 20 percent cap set in the Rate of Interest Act, as the alleged loans were provided “without any agreement or otherwise as to interest”. Mr Myers added that the $66,000 was “offered by Sir William as a means of reward for his forbearance”.

The estate showed that the “pure interest rate” generated by the promissory note was 45.83 percent, while the effective annualised interest rate was 70.29 percent. This compared to the 20 percent maximum allowed under the Act.

Mr Allen, though, said the dispute surrounding the $144,000 revolved around dealings involving Crab Cay, with the funds supposed to be repaid via proceeds from the island’s sale. “There was an arrangement where I and others were involved in a quieting process for a large and valuable property, Crab Cay,” he explained.

“He [Mr Myers] was paying into it. It was one of those sums going, with the others, to invest in Crab Cay. My father seems to have wrongly acknowledged this money as a debt, not an investment. My father signed this promissory note as a loan. I tried to assist him when he was under pressure and very ill. He had been suffering from cancer for years.

“When called upon, the court, if they look through the records of all the e-mails and correspondence, these were not loans. And, in so far as they have to be paid back, it would be from the proceeds of Crab Cay. If you look at the defence, it is termed as an eventuality which has not transpired. Crab Cay has not closed and, so far, any obligation has not come to fruition.”

Mr Allen said the situation involving Mr Moncur and his aunts has stalled the Crab Cay effort. They have not done anything wrong and are not involved in the dispute with Mr Myers.

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