Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts said original developer of Baha Mar Sarkis Izmirlian’s latest attack on the inked Baha Mar deal is nothing more than “sour grapes” and urged him to “show Bahamians the money.”
Mr. Roberts’ response comes a day after Mr. Izmirlian called the sale of the multi-billion dollar Cable Beach project a “fabrication” and urged the China Exim Bank to reconsider his offer for the resort, which he says tops the highest bidder.
“The record clearly shows that the developer was given many opportunities to retain control of his development but was less than forthright in his dealings with the Government of The Bahamas,” Mr. Roberts said in a press statement.
“The developer asked the prime minister to intervene when he encountered difficulties only to lead Baha Mar into bankruptcy in Delaware without notice to the government and with the full knowledge that the prime minister was working diligently – day and night – and in good faith to negotiate a deal that was fair and a win-win for all stakeholders involved.”
Mr. Roberts recalled that Mr. Izmirlian was only able to offer $15 million of an estimated $600 million for the property in bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware in 2015.
The PLP chairman added that at the time, there were no allocations made for former Baha Mar employees or the unsecured creditors.
“Bahamians must remember that the prime minister intervened after the debt for equity swap with Scotia Bank some years earlier and after The Bahamas Government extended more than $1 billion in good faith concessions to ensure the success of the project. Additionally, the developer defaulted on his financial obligations to the project’s financier who legally repossessed the assets under Bahamian law. The record is clear – the Government of The Bahamas on behalf of its people has ‘bent over backwards’ to assist the developer and the project,” Mr. Roberts said.
“The developer was very dishonest with and disrespectful to the prime minister, the government and people of The Bahamas so much so that the immigration minister was forced to caution the developer from a public place against his tone and tenor in addressing the nation’s leader.”
The PLP chairman said for the past 18 months, Mr. Izmirlian chose to blame everyone but himself even though he had total control of a $2.6 billion loan for the project.
Mr. Roberts also commended Prime Minister Perry Christie for moving the project along.
“We note that the developer refused to participate in the recent bidding process. To date, two of the government’s three primary objectives have been achieved. We are confident of the eventual sale of the Baha Mar assets to a world class hotel and casino operator and its opening all in the best interests of the Bahamian people,” he said.
“We again repeat the position of the Bahamas government: If Sarkis Izmirlian has an interest in purchasing the assets of Baha Mar and delivering a world class resort for the Bahamian people as he claims, he should offer a serious proposal and plan to the beneficial owner; in short – just show them the money. All we have seen to date are sour grapes, finger-pointing, vitriol and much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth.
“Bahamians fully understand if one secures a mortgage and default on payments the property will be repossessed by the mortgage holder, notwithstanding the size of the transaction. How can Sarkis Izmirlian after defaulting and foreclosure demand or presume to tell the mortgage holder whom they should sell to and insult them in the process.”