-says newspaper reports have dented casino licence chances
Hotelier Clifton Bacchus, who is battling for a casino licence, has denied that he is being funded
by a Surinamese businessman who is facing legal troubles in that neighbouring country.
Bacchus has also made it clear that his hopes for a licence for his Church Street hotel, appear to have been dashed with a number of recent, damning reports by the state-owned Guyana Chronicle.
Yesterday, the businessman’s lawyer, Anil Nandlall, in a letter to the Guyana Chronicle demanded an immediate apology, claiming that the reports have caused customers to cancel reservations, and that the businessman is suffering embarrassment and facing significant business losses.
The case is being looked at closely by stakeholders and other interest groups as a casino licence is at stake.
The law allows for each of the 10 administrative regions to have three casinos operating, making it a total of 30 such facilities in the country. However, for Region Four, one licence – to Princess Casino at Providence has already been allocated. Two more are up for grabs- with one said to be earmarked for the state-owned Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.
A number of applicants are said to be interested in that third licence.
According to the letter to Chronicle, the story yesterday headlined- “THE DUTCH CONNECTION…Sleepin Casino Surinamese partner was jailed for money laundering…Bacchus quizzed about permission to import slot machines, pgs 2 & 4”- contains a series of libels of and concerning Bacchus.
“In fact, the entire tenor, purport and intent of the article, is to convey to the reader that our client, his company and their operations are funded and financed from criminal proceeds, more specifically, drug trafficking, money laundering and forgery.”
According to the lawyer’s firm in the letter, the article also “falsely and maliciously” publishes that Bacchus, his company and its operation are being funded by Bhagwandath ‘Bidjay’ Parmasar. The newspaper reportedly said that Parmasar is the owner of Yokohoma Trading Company, the parent company of Pasha Global Group… and one of the main players in the setup of Carnival Casino, owned by Bacchus.
The article noted that certain criminal legal proceedings were instituted against Parmasar, detailing matters in relation to Parmasar’s trial, the investigation launched against him and elements of the evidence adduced against him.
“The article then, maliciously and libelously refers to an alleged SOCU probe involving our client, clearly trying to create a nexus between our client and Mr. Parmasar’s legal wrangle. As you are aware, our client has already issued a public statement disclaiming any knowledge of this alleged investigation by SOCU.”
SOCU is the acronym of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), a police arm which specialized in tracking dirty money and investigating financial crimes.
“In short, the clear intent of this article is to convey the clear and unequivocal impression that our client and his company are connected to, engaged in, associated with and funded by, illegal monies and proceeds of international crimes.”
Nandlall insisted that his client has received not a single cent of funding from any “Bhagwandath ‘Bidjay’ Parmasar” or any “Yokohama Trading Company”.
“Our client’s financing are from Trust Company (Guyana Limited) and Scotia Bank (Guyana), Wide Grace Limited and Global Trading Company Limited. Bhagwandath ‘Bidjay’ Parmasar and Yokohama Trading Company are not directors or shareholders of any of the aforementioned companies.”
Rather, it was said that Bacchus has a rental arrangement with Pasha Global Inc., a Guyanese company which is neither owned by nor connected to Parmasar, the lawyer said.
“We are to further inform you, that the aforementioned damning and defamatory publications have damaged our client’s character and reputation. They have also caused him and his family immeasurable pain, suffering, trauma and public humiliation. More significantly, the offensive publications have significantly tarnished and irretrievably stained our client’s business, as an international hotel.”
Nandlall said that the resultant loss and financial damage are and will continue to be irreparable. “Indeed, cancellations of reservations have already begun and are expected to continue, unabated. We must also inform you that the aforementioned publications may have also damaged our client’s prospects of being granted a Casino License for which an application has been made and is pending before the relevant authority.”
The letter also claimed that the publication has and is likely to cost Bacchus hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and possibly, financial ruination.
“In the circumstances, we are to call upon you to publish as soon as possible, a public apology to our client, giving same equal prominence which the offensive article enjoyed, along with a retraction of the said article. The same will certainly be of some mitigating effect in legal proceedings which shall ensue.”
The letter was copied to the Chairperson of the Guyana National Newspaper Limited.
Bacchus has completed building the hotel and the facilities for the casino. He was allowed to bring in some of the game machines and he has gone ahead with interviewing staffers.
The Gaming Authority, which regulates the gambling industry, earlier this week visited the Church Street premises as part of the application review process.
The authority is chaired by attorney-at-law, Roysdale Forde.
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