BMD Holdings Ltd, the original developer of the Baha Mar resort, today stated that it has reviewed the Heads of Terms regarding concessions agreed upon by the previous Government of The Bahamas, the China EXIM Bank, and China State Construction with respect to the yet to be completed sale of Baha Mar to Chow Tai Fook.
"In BMD's view, these documents confirm the nation's fears that the previous administration had engaged in the wholesale giveaway of hundreds of millions of dollars in tax waivers and concessions that the country could not afford and that rightfully should have been earmarked for The Bahamian people, solely to facilitate a charade of a sale in the lead up to the general election last May. The agreement also clearly raises the concern about the potential of corruption and self-dealing by members of the previous Government, even beyond the now public self-dealing by the former Attorney General.
"BMD Holdings applauds the new Government of The Bahamas for making public the Heads of Terms which had been kept secret from the Bahamian people by the previous Christie administration. Given the extremely adverse implications to The Bahamas of these one-sided concessions and the self-dealing that seems to have occurred, BMD urges the new Government to:
- Place a moratorium on the completion of any sale of Baha Mar and other transactions under these agreements so that it and the public can thoroughly assess the extent of the toxicity of these arrangements to our country and how the best interests of Bahamians can be met.
- Reopen the casino license investigation and report the findings of the Gaming Board given the extensive, disturbing public record about the potentially extensive criminal associations of Chow Tai Fook's owners – a record that appears to have been intentionally and conveniently ignored under the previous administration.
"The giveaways laid out in the Heads of Terms by the Christie administration to China EXIM Bank and Chow Tai Fook are egregious and an insult to the Bahamian people. What else did the former administration do in its desperation to get any kind of a deal to announce related to the sale of Baha Mar to try to win reelection and feather the economic nest of its members? The Heads of Terms is only one document of many about the former government's secret dealings on Baha Mar and the only document made public thus far. It is a bread crumb trail to many other referenced documents that must be vetted to determine the extent of the improper giveaways; the individual benefits to have been received by former PLP administration officials in return; and the longer term economic and social destruction implications to The Bahamas of the so-called sale of Baha Mar.
"The grossly unfavorable concessions revealed in the Heads of Terms, along with other commitments made by the prior Government to satisfy by the end of this year—including Chow Tai Fook's demands for increased power generation from Bahamas Power and Light, for the city dump, and for what it wants from the Water and Sewerage Corporation—place a crippling financial burden on The Bahamas that the country can ill afford at a time when the new Government is forced to borrow another $722 million.
"It is outrageous that the Christie administration would agree to grant 1,200 new Chinese work permits to CCA when Bahamian workers could, and should, finish this resort. At a conservative estimate, with the cost of completion standing at $600 million, these sums would have been a welcome boost to the local construction industry. These permits literally take food out of the mouths of Bahamians to reward the same Chinese construction company that had failed to meet multiple opening dates that it had set. It is unthinkable that a Government that claimed it was working in the best interests of the Bahamian people would have agreed to such terms.
"The Heads of Terms also underscores the extremes to which the former Government of the Bahamas and China EXIM bank conspired to impair the economic interests and reputation of the original developer, Sarkis Izmirlian. Not content to stop at the confiscation of the resort, the Heads of Terms expressly prohibits any payments to companies associated with Mr. Izmirlian, a long-time resident and the largest foreign investor in the history of The Bahamas, as well as payments to the former expatriate executives of Baha Mar. This is state-sponsored discrimination, contrary to the laws and constitution of The Bahamas, and sets an awful precedent for foreign investment in The Bahamas. Accordingly, BMD is considering its legal options against the parties involved in constructing these highly questionable agreements.
"BMD recognizes that with the election of this new and honorable Government comes the hope of the Bahamian people in restoring good governance to The Bahamas by an administration that will truly act in the best interests of Bahamians. We stand ready and willing to assist in that regard.
"There is no question that Baha Mar should be completed successfully and fully opened as soon as possible. But that Baha Mar should be, as originally conceived, a key economic sparkplug for The Bahamas. The Bahamian public should be convinced and be confident that the owner of Baha Mar is there for The Bahamas, committed to creating jobs for all Bahamians and enhancing the Bahamian way of life.
"BMD reiterates that it is fully prepared to purchase Baha Mar, and it is committed to completing and operating Baha Mar with a full Bahamian workforce and organization."
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