Echo-news.co.uk takes down major Harlequin investigative report. Why?

Ladies and gentlemen,

One of our readers recently commented on a BFP article about the Harlequin Hotels & Resorts situation and left a link to the Echo Newspaper in the United Kingdom. The July 10, 2012 Echo News article was titled “Wickford man at the centre of storm in the Caribbean property market“, and was a “SPECIAL INVESTIGATION by JON AUSTIN”

If you click on the link above you’ll see that the article is no longer there. This fits right in with our observation last week that Anti-Harlequin websites are disappearing.

Can we say “libel chill” ?

What was wrong with the Echo article? Surely the paper had their legal experts review it before it was published. We saw the article and intended to to a story about it, but alas, we failed to copy it at the time and now it’s gone from online. It was only there for a short time and even Google doesn’t have it in the cache.

So what is to be done?

Aha! We’re asking our readers around the world to forward copies of the article to BFP. 

Someone out there has a copy of the printed dead tree version that they can scan for us. Perhaps someone else made a PDF from the online article. Whatever you have, please send it and BFP we will dissect the article and see if we can determine why it was taken down.

I remember reading in the article that Harlequin hadn’t filed the required financial statements in St. Vincent for the last FOUR YEARS.

This is of vital interest to Bajans due to freedom of the press, and also of interest to those investors who have very legitimate questions about why so few units have been completed throughout the Harlequin projects list, and why the construction is not following the schedules communicated earlier by Mr. David Ames.

If the investigative reporter from the Echo would contact us and tell us what is going on, we’d appreciate that too. Mr. Austin, how about sending us an email at barbadosfreepress (at @) yahoo.com

Advertisements

20 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Freedom Of The Press, Offshore Investments

20 responses to “Echo-news.co.uk takes down major Harlequin investigative report. Why?

  1. This is nothing, I saw an entry at Kenton X. Chance’s “I-Witness News” which sought to examine if David Ames bought his citizenship in St Vincent… I carry Harlequin’s releases and have eMails of certain principals, when I write and ask if they can clarify or give a response to the allegations. Needless to say – I have received deafening silence and no further comment since

  2. 67

    Accounts could only show that Bucc Bay has lost millions since it opened, and the question would be, how did they fund these losses?The article also states that of the 30% deposits paid, only a small amount goes towards construction of the properties, with some 82m spent on “marketing” (probably fees to Ames marketing company and to other agents) the conclusion one could draw from the article is that with so little going towards construction and no finance in place, nor likely to be given the state of balance sheet and liabilities, and with so much going to Carter Ruck, Harlequin Air, funding losses, buying average small hotels, there is simply no way Harlequin will be able to meets its commitments.

    Accounts would have to show this, unless Ames put some of his “marketing” commissions and fees into building, but even then would be a million miles short. No wonder he wanted the article taken down, even though it seemed a clear statement of fact and allowed Ames to say that everything is going well, progress is strong, and investors are all very happy, banks about to lend etc The usual Tariq Aziz style patter.

  3. yatiniteasy

    This story from April 2012 is still up..perhaps missed by Mr Ames and Co?www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/county_news/9631574.The___180m_holiday_homes_gamble/

  4. Professional assistance

    Anonymous

    You forgot the bleeding that includes the legal fees required to kill this story and those professionals who hold their nose and look the other way—–for a price!

  5. glynn huggins

    I think Mr Ames has probably found this link (www.echo-news.co.uk/news/local_news/county_news/9631574.The___180m_holiday_homes_gamble/) as is no longer available…12Jul12 22:35 UK time

  6. Anon

    Seemz that BFP should make a PDF of every LINKED online article … 2 reasons – in case 1) it is DELETED 2) it is radically edited. Doesn’t anyone have a MAC? MACs allow Print to PDF as well as paper and that’s the fastest way to save a digital copy.

  7. yatiniteasy

    @glynn huggins..I can still access that website page.Also took page snapshots in case it too disappears.

  8. Green Monkey

    Salon.com columnist Glenn Greenwald: “Great deal of cowardice drives establishment media”.

  9. Concerned investor

    The bubble is about to burst not as big as Alan Stanford but close………. Well lets hope they have some American investors who get the same result for Mr Ames as they Stanford.

    When it does happen lets all remember that this is Mr Ames doing nobody else is to blame, Mr Ames is always trying to blame everyone else for things going wrong, its about time he stood up and took responsibility for HIS actions instead of just taking INVESTORS money.

    We have to ask ourselves who’s money is paying to sue investors who do speak out………..There own!!! 

    Maybe if Harlequin behaved themselves there would be no need for these Investors to resort to making websites about their experiences with Harlequin.

    Why when Harlequin property problems and Harlecon closed there websites didn’t Mr Ames make a press statement like when he sung from the rooftops about Singing pig and Harlequin-Warning? Is this because these people decided to close these websites of their own accord? So there is no victory for Mr Ames?

    How many different contractors have/are being sued by Harlequin?

    What amounts of money have they all supposedly stolen from Investors….My guess is that IF there is missing funds this is again down to Mr Ames attempting to cover his own tracks……..my guess is its probably less than two percent of the money taken in from investors yet I do believe that this will be the reason Mr Ames uses as to why Harlequin fails. 

    Not the fact that he has helped himself to several million pounds, He will not blame himself, He will blame everyone/anyone else that he can, We should all ask ourselves how many Contractors/Investors are counter suing? How many companies reputation is he going to ruin, Did he expect these people to work for nothing?

    Has anyone thought to ask how much he is paying himself? his wife? his family?…..Why is there not a Investor panel to oversee the financial outgoings?

    We could all do a better job! 

    How can it be that Mr Ames can spend OUR money OUR pensions when we cannot access them until we are 65 years old.

    Who gave him permission to give himself a loan from Investors funds???

    Maybe its just me but I don’t remember my IFA explaining any of this to me do you?

  10. Pingback: BFP readers supply over 30 copies of deleted Harlequin news story | Barbados Free Press

  11. yatiniteasy

    @Concerned Investor..I dont know how much you have invested , or in which property, but I am sorry that you will probably lose your money.
    No one has received (or ever will receive) title deeds to Buccament Bay Villas, for example, which is only 33% built.According to their sales agreements,the entire project has to be completed, before an investor can get clear title to anything.(The entire project will never be finished) Further, Harlequin does NOT own all the land at Buccament Bay, on which they plan to build the other 700 or so units. A local man named Punnett owns much of the land, and has leased it to Harlequin. So they are selling properties on land they do not own.
    Merricks is a no go…visit the place and one can see what a joke has been constructed so far of their “Show Village”
    Marquis in St Lucia has nothing going on, likewise The Dominican Republic and Brazil..it sure seems to be a big ponzi scheme, and a repeat of what Harlequin and Ames did in Thailand…only time will tell.
    My advice…see a lawyer and try to get all or some of your money back before the bubble bursts.

  12. 24

    Good advice, getting any money back is better than no money, which is what will happen when the bubble bursts and the perpetrators of this scam go the way of Madoff and Stanford. It is a shame that the celebrity endorsers of this product do not do more research and realise they are helping people lose money who can ill afford to lose money, and don’t question where the money behind their big pay cheques is coming from. Only a tiny amount of due dilligence would reveal that this is a scam, and their reputations will indeed be sullied, but not before they have pocketed some big fees paid for by these investors.

  13. victor

    Due diligence? In Barbados!!!?? Yeah, right.

  14. Harlequin’s Barbados Properties underway: Site Visit to Merricks Development 21/08/2012

    Harlequin’s Vice President of Hotels & Resorts suggested the disappearance of four anonymous websites which spouted sentiments against the tourism conglomerate may have done so as part of a Court ordered decision.

    Speaking to Barbadian journalists in Balmoral Gap, Hastings, Garrett Ronan totally refutes overseas media claims where Buccament Bay staff of Harlequin’s Vincentian resort remain unpaid despite claims from the Arnhim Eustace Opposition, VP Ronan also dismissed other claims from Britain’s Daily Echo of Bideford where 6,000 investors seek to recoup their deposits.

    His comments were in direct response to Bajan Reporter’s queries over particular Internet data which recently came to light, this Q&A came just before a tour of the Woodville/Amaryllis site in Hastings, Christ Church on the southern side of Barbados now to be referred to as H Barbados as well as a site inspection of the Merricks Development in the south-eastern parish of St Philip.

    The full details will be sourced very shortly in “The Bajan Reporter” where you can read for yourself at http://www.bajanreporter,com

  15. Anna mouse

    Ian this link doesn’t work could you please post the article in full for us to read?

  16. Depressed

    There are so many things wrong with what Mr Bourne has said, it’s hard to know where to begin.

    1. Mr Ronan does not “refute” anything. He denies it. Refute means to prove a thing is false. He has not done that. Unless, of course, he’s given Mr Bourne proof of his claims – in which case, please publish them.

    2. The Echo is an Essex-based newspaper. The edition to which he refers is based in Basildon. Bideford is in Devon. Bideford and Basildon are some 250 miles apart.

    3. No one in their wildest dreams is claiming that “6,000 investors seek to recoup their deposits.”

    (a) Harlequin claim to have sold 6,000 units. They have not stated how many individual “investors” there are. One suspects that many will have bought more than one unit, so the actual number of “investors” is likely to be rather less than 6,000.

    (b) The Basildon Echo article reports that a number of “investors” are seeking refunds – not ALL of them.

    4. If there are Court orders shutting down websites, have you , Mr Bourne, bothered to ask for sight of such orders? If not, all you are doing is to repeat mere speculation.

  17. Henry

    Dear Mr Bourne

    Could Mr. Ronan please furnish us with this court order?

    And why has Harlequin not shouted from the roof tops as they did in the case of the Singing Pig

    I suppose Mr. Ronan will; deny the shooting at the Buccament Bay resort

    The Paper in question was the The Echo in Basildon and not the Daily Echo in Bideford the reporter is Jon Austin at 01268 469304 and the article did not say that there were 6000 investors trying to get there deposits refunded.

    Also is Mr Ames taking over the Amaryllis site or don’t you mean the Allamanda.

    Interesting that Mr Ronan states in the video that the Two Rivers, Los Canas and Hideaway resorts in The Dominican Republic are in varying stages of planning approval despite claims on Harlequins website http://harlequinhotelsandresorts.com/news/e_newsletters/oct11/e_news_oct11_issue2.asp that work was commencing March 2012 and tender documents had been sent out. Surely you wait until planning approval before you get tenders? Just in case the planning department make 19 major requirement changes as with Merricks.

    http://www.tradewindsinvestments.co.uk/news.php see these claims re planning.The Hideaway, Las Canas, Dominican Republic – Completion December 2013 – The plans for the Hideaway are now agreed and work is due to commence shortly. The reason for delaying this was to ensure that focus was maintained on finishing works for the opening of Buccamment Bay Resort. Ground clearing at Two Rivers Resort will commence whilst the costruction of the Hideaway is underway. All planning permissions in place and work began May 2011.
    Some one should get there facts straight and as usual Harlequin never reads what it preaches as fact.

    The Furnishing that are pointed out in the video are the same that were provided by Mr Andy Smith of Procure It Direct a company that Ames now claims has stolen millions from him.

    Locals in St Vincent and further afield claim that PID were indeed excellent at procuring building materials fixtures and furnishings and COCAINE.

    We also noted a few spelling errors in the credits at the end of his excellent video but the biggest question is where is Ames getting the 2 Billion plus dollars to complete his resorts?

    Who will lend a twice bankrupt double glazing salesman that kind of money someone who lives in the same parallel universe as himself.

    Mr Ronan and Mr Campion seem to be digging a very large hole for themselves with there continued misrepresentation of what is really going on. surely Mr Ames, Mr Ronan and Mr Campion should relocate to the Cern laboratories in Switzerland allowing the worlds best scientists to investigate there parallel universe or maybe the little bankrupt from Essex does have the secret to unlocking world poverty and the worlds banking crisis.

    Its a flying pig no its not its Harlequin Air !!!

  18. 144

    I believe Ames and co have taken over Amarylis, as well as Allamanda. After all, how is he supposed to raise money to build Allamanda if he does not make sales in another new development. He must create new developments that he can sell in the long shot hope he can actually build any of them.

  19. anonymous242

    another echo report out today regarding harlequin and that they are apparently taking high court action against their previous auditors for libel and claiming that they were responsible for the HARLECON website. now that should be very interesting. previously in their statement to you they said padraig o’halloran was behind it but now it appears they claim their previous auditors were. quite what a reputable nationwide firm of accountants would gain by starting a website to do this is beyond me. BUT yet more proposed litigation. how may court cases now???

  20. Anonymous

    In the Echo in April, Harlequin said ““All of Harlequin’s current projects are on course for phased openings from 2013 and we hold regular face-to-face meetings for investors, as well as providing updates online” Have they now told investors that this is not possible? Merricks and Marquis still have not begun construction (show homes do not count at Merricks), and even if they started today, there is not enough time between now and end of 2013 to open a resort. The same goes for the sites in the DR. What has changed between April and now? Merricks was supposed to be phased open from 2009 originally, the dates will keep being pushed back as the money is not there – it goes to agents and Ames first and foremost. When will investors twig, how long wlll they let this sham continue?