TCI News

TCI: Ambulance Chasing in the Hotel Industry

#Providenciales, May 27, 2019 – Turks and Caicos – A Miami-based law firm called Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina and Winkleman has filed a high profile class action suit in a Florida court claiming that world-renowned hotel chain Sandals Resorts International allegedly retained government taxes that were charged to its guests in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

That story would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.

A quick search online would show you that Lipcon, Margulies, Alsina and Winkleman has tried this on nearly everyone from Viking Sky, Norwegian Breakaway, Royal Caribbean, and now they’ve set sights on hotels it seems, an action almost akin to ‘ambulance chasing’.

For its part Sandals has responding very clearly; it’s going to court to vigorously fight this matter which it slammed as baseless. After all, the company has reputation of service and success that it has spent nearly four decades developing.

For the person who chooses to think rather than swallow anything online as gospel, only one question needs to be asked; why would a successful, Fortune 500, multi-billion dollar company risk its business by doing something which makes no sense? Especially since the company is audited annually.

It’s not like Sandals is hand-to-mouth and struggling to survive. The company is one of the few success stories of the Caribbean, a serial winner of awards and one that has been voted World’s Best for 23 consecutive years. That handle alone is all it needs to make money. Occupancy is always high, so high in fact that at certain times of the year you simply can’t get a room at Sandals, and in particular Beaches Turks and Caicos no matter how hard you try.

So why on earth would a company that is already so successful …that is making money throughout the Caribbean legally and properly – not just in Turks and Caicos – why would it do something so utterly foolish? For Heaven’s sake, even the Premier of the TCI Sharlene Robinson told the media that government has never had an issue with Sandals and its payment of taxes. In fact, Sandals is often first in line when it comes to the tax man!

It makes no sense!

The recent claim by the revenue department in the TCI that the Beaches Resorts there owed back taxes ironically resulted in a situation where it is the TCI government that actually owes Sandals money – nearly US$75 million of it – in overpaid taxes.

Like I said, laughable. So you are telling me that Sandals allegedly withholds taxes on one end, and then overpays taxes on the other?!!! I mean really!

However we live in a new age; the age of the quick buck. We live in an age where people no longer want to work hard to earn money, no, they rather target someone who has worked hard, and then try to scheme them out of what they have earned.

The people who do this are no better than those who pull a gun on you and steal your money. It’s a new form of robbery, and the weapon they use to rob you is litigation.

After all, the law firm has only one thing on its mind; a settlement! It’s all about shooting high, using the media to try and embarrass the company and then trying to extort a settlement. Pitiful.

However others have tried it before, and to his credit Butch Stewart has never backed down. Why should he? The man must be pained to know that after all he has given to the region certain con men just want to rip him off. After all Sandals is a company that employs over 14,000 Caribbean nationals, a company that is the main source of foreign exchange for many islands, a company that is the highest tax payer in many islands, and the Sandals Foundation alone has spent over US$50 million in community projects.

that steals money would give away over US$50 million dollars in non-profit projects to help the region’s environment, education and community development?

How does that make sense folks? Ask yourself.

It’s time we stop pandering to these modern day ‘Dillingers’ who would rob our neighbours while we look on, because they’ll come for you next.

I am proud that Butch Stewart has taken a stand against these people, and is prepared to defend his company, because ultimately he is also defending the integrity of Caribbean tourism on which many of our people and our islands depend!

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