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Desarrollos Owners accused in Ponzi scheme; could jeopardize TCI Ritz Carlton

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Providenciales, 13 Apr 2015 – Seems a four year investigation by the SEC of the United States has come to public attention, and only now are we learning that the company which had for years been courting the Turks and Caicos Islands Government to build a new hotel in Grace Bay has a scandal surrounding some of its executive moves.
This scandal seriously threatens the construction of the Ritz Carlton which was recently announced as poised for construction start in November this year; a $224 million agreement.

Online reports are revealing that the Desarrollos Hotelco is embroiled in a court case where it is alleged the company received $15 million dollars from a company which has confessed to a Connecticut court, its orchestration of a $300 million Ponzi scheme.

This is nasty business once again for the Turks and Caicos as the country is falling in less than favorable light for missing the allegations which reached the courts in the US since June last year.
It was the Governor’s Office which in October 2012, before a new elected government came to office, gave credence to the interests of the Desarrollos Group.

At the time, the report was headlined that three hotel agreements valued at $500 million dollars were signed by then Governor, Damian Ric Todd.

We learned then that the Desarrollos Hotelco first visited the TCI in March 2011 and that the company worked with the Investment Unit and Horton Realty to acquire 10.5 acres of land.

The Venezuelan company reportedly had meetings with the Planning Department, the Airports Authority and hired KPMG TCI as consultants on the development which was originally proposing three hotels all together; at the time the brand being touted was Marriott.

In October 2012, Governor Ric Todd remarked: “This is the best possible vindication of the new Turks and Caicos Inward Investment Policy, management structure and approach to attracting inward investment on the best terms for the taxpayers of the Turks and Caicos. This confirms that major international investors are impressed by the reforms that we have made over the past three years…”

The irony of these remarks plays out regrettably in many of the reports surfacing online now; residents reaching out to Magnetic Media about this erupting scandal want to know how the UK appointed and TCI elected governments both missed the allegations of corruption and what these reports mean, if anything, to the recently signed agreement.

We have reached out to both the Office of the Premier and the Governor’s Office on this matter; up to news production time, there was no response.

The court document, which is available online and which we reviewed, says: “…payments from the Receivership Entities directly to entities controlled by Walter Stipa for the benefit of Romeo Mouawad, Miguel Mouawad, and Jespa Mouawad” – all are named as owners in the Desarrollos Group of companies – it continues: “These funds must be returned to the Receiver for distribution to the defrauded victims of Connecticut’s largest Ponzi scheme.”

Magnetic Media is a Telly Award winning multi-media company specializing in creating compelling and socially uplifting TV and Radio broadcast programming as a means for advertising and public relations exposure for its clients.

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Provo Water Company restrictions almost over, access times extended

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – Just under two weeks before water restrictions in Providenciales are due to end, some loosening up has already begun as the Provo Water Company puts measures in place to ensure increased outflow of the precious commodity.

On Friday, April 12 the company announced water restrictions would be reduced by an hour and a half. Previously running from 9 pm to 6 a.m. water lock-offs are now from 10 pm to 5:30 a.m.

In tandem with that announcement came the reveal of several new projects: a new transmission main, the Upgrading of major fittings, and the repurposing of a new tank.

Water lock-offs were instituted because millions of gallons were pouring out faster than the tank at Suzie Turn could fill at night, running the risk of PWC not being able to supply areas of Providenciales including the hospital and airport.

Of the three measures instituted to stem this problem, the repurposing of an Industrial Park tank is likely what we see residents get some relief the quickest. Initially created for another project, the 1.5 million gallon tank is now being used as an additional source to replenish the Suzie Turn Reservoir. PWC says this is addressing the water supply issues that began in March.

More long-term strategies are also on the way, Magnetic Media saw photos of ongoing work, showing contractors digging up areas of roadway across Provo, for the first project, the new transmission main.

The route for that new piping is as follows: “June Plum, Gardenia Way, Kakeka Streets, and Garden Loop to the Leeward Highway, extending from the Long Bay Hills Drive junction to the roundabout near Crackpot Kitchen.”

This should be finished by the end of May 2024 and when complete will also work to provide increased water supply into the network making more lock-offs less likely as it increases reliability.

The final project to be completed in the medium term, by September, will involve upgrading the fittings at major water junctions along the Leeward Highway.

“These improvements to the water supply network’s central artery will increase water flow to the Suzie Turn Reservoir, and enhance water availability and quality for customers located west of Turtle Cove,” PWC said in a press release.

Having been given the go-ahead to carry out the lock-offs by the Energy and Utilities Department, which concurred that they were taking the right course of action PWC has been steadily communicating with residents.

Aside from the nightly lock-off, in the past month, residents have had to deal with low water pressure, late return of the commodity when lock-offs end, and other minor disruptions to their service.

The company has acknowledged that development in the country was spreading incredibly fast and they were trying to catch up, apologizing to residents for the interruption.

Provo Water also says it is planning for a rainy day or any sort of natural disaster or emergency. Once the final two projects are complete, the Industrial Park tank will be used as a catchment area to be saved for any emergencies the country may experience.

“This water system investment speaks volumes about our proactive approach to directly addressing water challenges. Through expanding storage capacity and optimizing distribution efficiency, we are well-positioned to deliver reliable, high-quality water services to our customers,” Robert Hall, Managing Director said.

Everyone is affected, from locals to visitors but PWC is promising a quick end to the problem caused by the lag between an increasing population and the development of critical infrastructure.

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UK Passengers to Turks and Caicos Islands Increase as March Sets New Record for Air Arrival

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#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – Experience Turks and Caicos is pleased to report a notable increase in air arrivals from the United Kingdom to the Turks and Caicos Islands, signaling positive developments in our tourism landscape. While the United States continues to lead as our primary tourism source, we are encouraged by the uptick in visitors from the United Kingdom during the initial months of this year.

From January to March 2024, the Turks and Caicos Islands welcomed 3,946* arrivals from the UK and Europe, representing a substantial 105.4% increase compared to the same period in 2023. This rise can largely be attributed to the commencement of Virgin Atlantic’s non-stop flight from Heathrow, London to Providenciales, which commenced operations on November 4th, 2023.

The introduction of twice-weekly flights by both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways has enhanced accessibility, opening up new avenues for exploration within the European market. Data shows growth in arrivals from European nations such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Projections based on ticket purchases indicate that from January to August 2024, we anticipate a total of 8,130 passengers from the UK, reflecting a substantial 54 percent increase year over year. Additionally, France is expected to contribute 761 visitors (a 13 percent increase), followed by Italy with 513 passengers and Germany with 436 passengers, each representing a notable 55 percent increase year over year.

Expressing satisfaction at this development, the Honourable Josephine Connolly, Minister of Tourism, said: “The increase in UK and European arrivals reflects our concerted efforts to diversify our tourism offerings and expand our reach. We welcome visitors from the UK and beyond to experience the beauty of our islands and the warmth of our hospitality.”

The surge in arrivals from the UK and Europe has contributed to a record-breaking March, with 77,559 air arrivals overall, marking a 15.57% increase over March 2023. Year to date, the islands have welcomed 204,237 air arrivals, demonstrating steady growth.

Complementing the increase in arrivals has been an increase in online search activity from most key markets. There is strong evidence to suggest that these searches are converting into bookings, based on the current and forecasted air passenger arrivals. For US-based travelers, according to Google Flights, the Turks and Caicos Islands is the most searched destination for couples and family vacations and in the top five for solo travelers for Summer 2024.

Arrivals to the Turks and Caicos Islands is projected to remain strong with a 24% year-on-year increase* through August, signaling that the Turks and Caicos Islands tourism industry will remain active throughout the year.

Cruise numbers for March 2024 were the highest for the year so far with 98, 161* passengers, a decrease of 1.88% from March 2023 which saw 100, 047 passengers arriving at the Grand Turk Cruise Centre.

As we navigate these encouraging trends, Experience Turks and Caicos remain steadfast in our commitment to sustainable tourism development and the preservation of our natural and cultural heritage.

*These are provisional figures *Data courtesy Amadeus Destination Insights Report 202

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Crown Land acreage to grow according to ISU progress report

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Dana Malcolm

Staff Writer 

 

#TurksandCaicos, April 19, 2024 – Slow but steady is how the ISU is carrying out its mandate to reclaim the 544 acres of illegally occupied land in the Turks and Caicos, revealing that 2.4 percent is now cleared and back under the control of its rightful owners; that 2.4% represents 13.15 acres of the initial 544.46.

In an April 11 newsletter discussing its 2023 year in review, the ISU revealed that at the completion of its mandate, almost half the land would go back to the hands of non-Crown landowners as the Unit is undertaking removals on private land, having been beseeched by the landowners who were dealing with squatters

It is expected that of the 544 acres of land, 11 percent will go back to the government 42 percent will go back to private landowners 45 percent was listed as ‘mixed’ and 2 percent had no clear owner.

Magnetic Media has asked if private owners are covering their own costs when it comes to clearing squatters from their properties.

It would come as no surprise to residents that the vast majority of informal settlements (37) were discovered in Providenciales, another nine were found in Grand Turk and a single settlement in North Caicos.

The Turks and Caicos has the unsavory distinction of being the only UK territory where shanty towns or informal settlements are so firmly established.

It’s not just irregular migrants desperate for a place to call home who are perpetuating the land crisis. Legitimate residents have been found in breach as well according to sources speaking to the news team.

According to the newly minted ISU, here is what will happen if you build on a lot without direction from the Planning Department.

You will be served an eviction notice if your structure is found to be illegally occupying Crown Land.  The ISU says then, you will have one month to secure other accommodation and leave.

If the structure is unoccupied after 28 days, reclamation procedures will commence.

If the structure is occupied, individuals will be evicted before reclamation, the ISU says.

The ISU anticipates that there will be claims against eviction orders and is advising people who wish to contest the notice, visit a Crown Land Unit office.

Those contests came in a flood following eviction notices in November 2023 and the Crown Land Unit is still trying to straighten them out with a promise that residents will be treated fairly.

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