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Can TCI Gov’t and Beaches Resort resolve tax row in 10-days? Mediator can start work Nov 8

Beaches Resort unveiled new Covid ready amenities, Photo by Magnetic Media

#Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands – October 19, 2020 — Negotiations to resolve the multi-million dollar claims of non-payment or over-payment linked to Beaches Turks and Caicos could begin in 20 days, now that a mediator proposed by the Turks and Caicos Islands Government has been accepted by the resort.

“After four years, the Government has finally agreed to a process of mediation to which we are fully committed in an effort to bring this long outstanding matter to a fair conclusion. TCIG proposed a list of mediators and we agreed to one of them. The Mediator is available the week of November 8, 2020 and we have advised the TCIG that we are ready, willing and able to proceed.  We trust that the TCIG will enjoin in the mediation process during this period in good faith as committed,” explained Beaches Resort in a statement issued today.

In response to Magnetic Media questions  about who is the mediator and what is the proposed timeline for start and conclusion of the negotiations, the Premier said via email that, “The matter with Beaches remains sensitive. Both TCIG and Beaches are moving with urgency and until dates are finalised, TCIG is not in a position to state a timeline outside of as soon as possible. 

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I will ask Beaches and TCIG’s lawyers as to whether information about the mediation process can be shared at this point.”

Sharlene Robinson, TCI Premier and Minister of Finance, in a letter issued last week to media informed of the offer of a mediator.

“Obvious by its absence in Beaches’ press release is reference to the ongoing urgent discussions and actions between the parties’ respective lawyers to appoint a qualified mediator to facilitate a resolution. TCIG has since May this year agreed to a mediator and it is hoped that such a mediation will take place next month.”

Beaches Resort over the weekend confirmed to Magnetic Media that it was true; they were in receipt of a list of candidates. The fact had not made it to any of their public statements on the litigation.

The Premier rejected the characterisation of ‘incompetence’ by Beaches Resort and in a TCI Sun newspaper article, was resolute that government has not ignored the law suit for years. 

“The line being peddled by Beaches that a lawsuit remains unresolved after 4 years is demonstrably untrue. As I have previously made clear, Beaches first issued proceedings in May 2019. We continue to await their amended claim, promised by their attorney in August 2020. They have also brought proceedings seeking to challenge an assessment made in February 2020. It does not follow that, because Beaches repeatedly assert that they don’t owe taxes, that that is legally the case,” she said.

Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos has added thousands of features to brace for a post Covid reopening. Photo by Magnetic Media

Magnetic Media has learned the individual, a male, is a Queen’s Counsel (QC) attorney with experience in negotiating tax disputes.

The background and adeptness of the QC is critical as there is so much riding on the process, not least of which is the impending re-opening of the resort on November 18.

Beaches’ Board of Directors is adamant that it will not re-open the property which employs 2,000 people and which attracts the lion’s share of long stay visitors to the country, until the matter is addressed.

“We echo the sentiments of TCIG that the Turks and Caicos Islands is also beautiful with remarkable people and we look forward to re-opening our doors in due course once approved by the Board of Directors. The statement also explained, “Beaches TCI wishes to make it clear that it has made no unreasonable demands whatsoever. Beaches is not asking TCIG for any favours or special treatment and any suggestion to the contrary, is simply a PR spin on the facts.”

Beaches Resort Turks and Caicos claims its Development Agreement was breached and they had been overpaying taxes. 

“Beaches simply wants the Government to honour the terms of its Development Agreement(s) and other legally binding commitments, nothing more, nothing less. Breaches of these Agreement(s) by TCIG is the reason Beaches was compelled to file its lawsuit in May 2019.”

TCIG claims Beaches Resort is severely in arrears to the tune of a reported $20 million dollars. 

Beaches TC, five days before opening its mega resort property on Grace Bay Beach in Providenciales, announced it would postpone reopening amidst the coronavirus pandemic from October 14 to November 18; it was a devastating announcement.

The result is a volley of spicy statements which had not nudged the needle until now.

The mediator has indicated he can begin the negotiation process on November 8. The ball is now in TCIG’s court.

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