Months after two Hong Kong businessmen were announced as the equity investor in the Marriott Hotel, Government has
finally admitted that it has not yet received a blind cent of that US$8M.
Head of Atlantic Hotels Inc, Winston Brassington said that legal challenges have halted any investment.
At the same time it would raise alarming questions now about where Government is getting the money from to complete the US$57M hotel which is set to open its doors in February.
Government had originally announced that it plugged almost US$20M, including preparatory works and its own equity, into the project.
Atlantic Hotel Inc. (AHI), the Government-owned company that was specially established to manage the hotel construction and later on, the overall operations, had enlisted Republic Bank Trinidad to mobilise investors and issue what is known as a syndicated loan.
To secure that loan, Government a few months ago moved to mortgage the lands and property in Kingston where the project is being built. One week later AHI said that it was taking out a debenture on the Marriott.
A court case filed by Opposition Member of Parliament, Desmond Trotman, in his private capacity, asked for court orders to block the mortgaging of the lands. Trotman said that the transfer of the lands by Government to AHI was illegal.
Head of AHI, Winston Brassington, on Wednesday said that the US$8M to come from the equity investor, under the arrangements, will now have to be procured all over again, after the disbursement of the US$27M loan from Republic Bank.
Brassington was of course referring to Chinese businessmen Victor How Chung Chan, and Xu Han, whose company, British Virgin Islands (BVI)-registered ACE Square Investments Ltd, was touted to have invested the US$8M.
Speaking to Kaieteur News on Wednesday, after the commissioning of the US$42M transmission line project of the Guyana Power and Light Inc., Brassington also railed against the court cases filed by MP Trotman, which has held up financing for the project.
He said that Republic Bank cannot disburse any of the US$27M unless the security (mortgages) is in place. The court case by Trotman has effectively held up the processing of the mortgage and the debenture, he said.
Brassington, who is under fire for his role in the privatization of several state assets, opined that there is a conspiracy by Kaieteur News and the Opposition, including Leader of the Alliance For Change, Khemraj Ramjattan, to “scuttle” the Marriott deal.
He accused Kaieteur News of being the “biggest anti-investor” entity, and threatened to write international journalism bodies to investigate the “tactics” being used by the newspaper.
The Marriott Hotel has been mired in controversy from its inception firstly with the rerouting of the sewerage system before any works had begun.
Prior to the NICIL money, Government had given Courtney Benn Contracting Services Limited a US$1M contract for the rerouting of the sewerage system in the Kingston locale. That contract was pulled after more than US$700,000 was paid over. It was then given to an overseas company, for a further US$2M.
AHI also leased the prime seven acres of shorefront property on which the hotel rests for a measly US$120 (G$24,000) per month with the option to buy.
The hotel construction is being carried out by Shanghai Construction Group.
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