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UK Serious Fraud Office probing St Vincent resort
KINGSTOWN—Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace said on Wednesday that the United Kingdom Serious Fraud Office is investigating the Buccament Bay Resort project and that he has “a copy of submissions” made to that office.
“I shall say more on this at a later date. This is as yet a developing matter,” Eustace told a news conference as the fallout continues from an encounter between Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves and two journalists from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) over the weekend.
Eustace said he was advised that sometime around Thursday, a UK-based lawyer from Regulatory Legal Solicitors, acting for a number of UK investors in the Harlequin Buccament Bay Project, had flown to St Vincent and the Grenadines “for the purpose of ascertaining the situation as it pertains to Harlequin’s Buccama Resort and to further investigate the land title at Buccament as it relates to the resort.
“I am further advised that all options—including an international freezing order, the effect of which would be to halt the operation of the Buccama Resort, remain on the table for the UK investors he represents,” Eustace said. Gonsalves, during a call to a local radio station over the weekend, said the BBC journalists asked him about an allegation of bribery involving him and chair of Harlequin, Dave Ames.
He denied the allegation and has assured citizens that he is not corrupt. Ames was granted citizenship because of his investment here. Eustace told the news conference that Ames and the resort have “had a troubled history”.
“Locally, the project has been plagued by labour and land ownership disputes, litigation by investors, and arrears owed to vendors, the combination of which has prompted questions as to whether the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines exercised thorough due diligence in its assessment of Dave Ames and Harlequin,” said Eustace.
“I have on many occasions publicly called upon the project to honour its debts to local contractors and workers, with little success. Internationally, UK investors have instituted legal proceedings which have attracted coverage by British and regional press.”
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