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.”
Grants for farmers
#TurksandCaicos, January 31, 2023 – Good Morning to my colleagues in government, I recognize……..and most importantly good morning to the farmers. It is my pleasure today to have you here at this award ceremony. For the very first time in Turks and Caicos, farmers are getting relief for hurricane damage.
This shows that the government is committed to ensuring that the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands have access to a constant and nutritious supply of food, reduce the food import bill and retain money in the local economy. Food Security is the foundation of all human needs. Given the threat to the global supply chain and growing inaccessibility to enough nutritious food, the Government is committed to supporting the farmers to produce local food, to supplement the food requirement of the country. My government’s priority is to provide an enabling environment, to facilitate local investment within the Agriculture Sector as outlined in the People’s Plan for Empowerment
In February last year (2022) my government launched the Agriculture Finance Support Programme (Agro-Grant Incentive). This Finance Support Program for farmers is the first program of this kind in the Turks and Caicos Islands and shows Government’s mandate is to invest heavily in local food production through providing financial support. My government has allocated US$250,000.00 in this first year to promote agriculture development. This Finance Program has 3 areas of support
- Improvement Programmes – to upgrade farms, Existing registered farmers who wish to perform farm upgrades can receive a maximum of $20,000
- New Farm Start Up/Young Entrepreneurs– For new or younger farmers between the ages of 18-25 years can receive a maximum of $15,000
- Disaster Relief – this is specifically in response to National Natural Disasters “Acts of Nature” inclusive of earthquake, hurricane and storms and other approved natural disasters. The value of this grant will be 10% of the assessed damages (up to a maximum of $20,000 USD
To date 12 farmers have received grants in the first 2 categories. Today we are here to give disaster relief to those registered farmers who would have suffered from losses due to the passage of hurricane Fiona in September last year.
Government knows that Farming is an expensive business, farmers livelihood depends on the investment they make on their farms. We live in a small island state that is vulnerable to natural disasters such as hurricane. These disasters can have devastating effects on farms, destroying years of productive work and effort farmers would have put in.
Government in recognizing the important contribution farmers make to Food security and the vulnerabilities they face has moved into action to provide much needed support towards the rebuilding of the farms. Today 15 registered will be receiving funds for disaster relief to assist with their rebuilding efforts. This monies I know will be used for the purposes granted.
I want to thank my Cabinet colleagues and Premier for supporting the continued efforts to grow the Agriculture Sector.
My department of Agriculture recognizes farming is dynamic and as such has lobbied Cabinet for continued support. I am pleased to say that in August last year through a Cabinet Paper, government had approved amending the Agriculture Policy to provide full exemption of import duties for farm vehicles registered farmers can now apply through the department for this support. At that meeting we also agreed for the Department of Agriculture to develop a comprehensive Agro-Incentive Program to support farming in the TCI.
Once again I would like to commend the farmers who are benefiting today for their hard work and dedication and look forward to serving you as your minister
U.S. Supports the RBPF With Additional Crime Fighting Vehicles on The Bahamas’ “Road to 50”
#TheBahamas, January 31, 2023 – Since 1973, the United States and The Bahamas have enjoyed a long-lasting security partnership. To mark this valued friendship, the United States Government, on January 31, 2023, renewed its support for the Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) with 20 new Ford Police Inceptor Hybrid SUVs valuing nearly $1.4 million. The United States’ Chargé d’Affaires Usha Pitts; Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Davis; Minister of National Security, the Hon. Wayne Munroe and RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander were on hand for the donation at RBPF East Hill Street Headquarters.
The 20 hybrid vehicles will be added to the 32 vehicles previously donated to the RBPF by the US government to help replace crucial infrastructure lost during Hurricane Dorian. Recovering from a hurricane is an arduous process that requires support at many levels, from roads and housing to mental health services. The U.S. government hopes these vehicles will contribute to one key step in the process: citizen security. These vehicles will not only assist the RBPF’s efforts to combat crime but will also reduce greenhouse gas emissions on the islands.
In her remarks Chargé Pitts noted, “these vehicles are just one example of the United States’ continued efforts to help for The Bahamas’ keep its citizens and visitors safe.”
Prime Minister Philip Davis showed his appreciation for this timely vehicle donation as it will assist with added capacity and increased saturation patrols on the streets. The Prime Minister added that residents will notice an increased police presence and the police will have new capacity to respond quickly to any criminal activity.
RBPF Commissioner Clayton Fernander highlighted that “we have noticeably taken more illegal firearms and ammunition off our streets in 2022. We have also seized more illegal drugs including marijuana and marijuana plants than in [previous] years. Suffice to say, we have efficiently utilized all 32 vehicles previously donated by the U.S. government in our crime fighting efforts.”
In recent years, the U.S. Government, through U.S. Embassy Nassau, has delivered more than $25 million to assist The Bahamas with efforts to fight crime. On behalf of the Bahamian people, Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe extended his gratitude for the U.S. government’s assistance noting “It seems that when we’re together there [is] always an occasion where they [U.S. government] have helped us and assisted us substantially.”
Captions: Credited to U.S. Embassy Nassau
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