UWP calls on Wayne Girard to come clean about Freedom Bay
By The United Workers Party (UWP)
Oct 16, 2020 - 2:50:40 PM
The United Workers Party is appalled at recent statements by St Lucia Labour Party candidate for Anse La Raye/Canaries, Wayne Girard, on the reason why his investment project, Freedom Bay failed. Appearing on the Choice Television Program, SoLucians, Girard told the Nation that Freedom Bay never opened its doors because Prime Minister Allen Chastanet upon assuming Office in 2016, whispered to his partners that he, Girard, ought not to be part of the Project and so to protect himself and the investors a decision was taken “to put the Development into receivership”. This is not just ludicrous but an insult to all Saint Lucians. Does Wayne Girard believe that Saint Lucians are that gullible? That they have no understanding of business operations? The United Workers Party is calling on Wayne Girard to do the honourable thing and come clean on the debacle that is Freedom Bay. Clarify to the Nation the myriad of allegations made against him in the international community.
The UWP reminds Girard that he and his partners sold Freedom Bay, as a five star hotel and resort development that had it all. Glossy brochures boasted that the Resort development was nestled “on 77 acres of a UNESCO world heritage site at the foothills of the iconic Pitons of Saint Lucia”. Launched in the UK, British nationals were enticed to invest in the Development by using their pension funds through what’s called the Self Invested Personal Pension portfolio, SIPP. What initially appeared to be an intriguing investment opportunity with the promise of large returns and a number of other worthwhile benefits, soon turned into a nightmare, leaving the investors out of pocket, with large sums of their hardearned money down the drain.
The fact is, Freedom Bay was a high-risk, unregulated scheme that was mis-sold. British nationals were promised 6% returns during construction and 8% for the following three years. There was also a Fractional Ownership option to this investment which meant clients not only invested in the development, but had entitlements to one or more weeks in a luxury apartment or villa. Operating a little bit like timeshare in that they could also exchange these weeks for other resorts or let the hotel rent them out and earn income. To seal the deal, a two year get-out clause was implemented, which meant investors were entitled to a refund if the resort wasn’t completed within 24 months. The scheduled completion date was in 2012. The UWP calls on Wayne Girard to explain why the completion date was pushed back to 2013 and then to 2014? Given that the Malgretoute Hotel Development Company, trading as Freedom Bay, went into receivership why have investors not received the returns they were promised as per the two-year get-out clause that was in place?
In the interest of transparency, the UWP calls for full disclosure on the state of the Project considering that the Malgretoute Hotel Development Company Ltd, has accumulated debts of $54 million to secured creditors alone, $45 million of which was attributable to Heritage, a Guernsey-based Trust Company that took in funds from pension providers and individuals, then on-lent them to the developers. Freedom Bay is also yet to pay a $12 million debt to the Government of Saint Lucia for the lands acquired for the property development. Several contractors also remain unpaid. The allegations surrounding Freedom Bay have created international shame on Saint Lucia, whose reputation as a sound investment destination is paramount.
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