Monthly Archives: March 2015

Harlequin selling Headquarters building for £525,000 – Where is the £400million taken from investors?

harlequin headquarters fraud

We’d say it was like selling off the family silverware, except there is no silverware left. Probably never was any.

After slickly removing £400 million from little old ladies and transit pensioners, David Ames and his gang are selling off their headquarters to pay the bills.

The Serious Fraud Office and the Essex Police have had an open file on the bunch since early 2013, but after two years Ames is still walking around with the rotting financial corpses of thousands of victims in his wake.

Two years should be long enough for the police and the SFO to do the job. What’s the delay?

From the Professional Adviser…

Troubled Harlequin puts HQ up for sale

Troubled overseas property investment scheme Harlequin has put its headquarters up for sale.

The warehouse and offices in the Honywood Business Park in Basildon have been listed for sale on property website Rightmove for £525,000. Harlequin owner David Ames would also consider leasing back the first floor offices at a rent of £25,000 per year, according to the advert.

A spokesperson for the company said: “Harlequin owns its Basildon offices and occupies the first floor of Unit 11, with all other space let to third parties.

“Harlequin is attempting to sell in order to discharge its liability and remove its responsibilities as a lessor.”

The move raises further questions over the financial situation of the company, which has received £400m from investors that they are currently unable to access.

Unregulated investment scheme Harlequin worked by taking deposits from mainly UK pension investors to build off-plan properties in the Caribbean, which could then be sold at a profit on completion or used to generate a rental income from holidaymakers. But out of a scheduled 6,000 properties, about 300 have been built.

… read the rest at the Professional Adviser

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Filed under Barbados, Business & Banking, Consumer Issues, Crime & Law, Offshore Investments

Will the demise of LIAT Airlines bring down CARICOM too? Do you remember “one from ten is zero”?

Liat Airline

Our old friend Jim Lynch has been following the news that Barbados wants to pull out of LIAT Airlines and establish a national carrier. You can follow the story at CRANe – The Caribbean Regional Aviation Network.

That got us thinking… you remember the old CARICOM cry “one from ten is zero”?

LIAT isn’t CARICOM, but it is perhaps the most visible expression of Barbados’ commitment to the organization.

If LIAT falls, does it harm CARICOM?

Proposal for Barbados to Quit LIAT

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, March 28 2015 – Caribbean News Service (CNS) has obtained a document titled “Proposal for the Establishment of a Barbados Air Carrier.”

The document, allegedly authored at the senior management level of LIAT, points to Barbados, LIAT’s majority shareholder, planning to quit airline

The document proposes that a Barbados air carrier be established with its own Air Operators Certificate (AOC) and Route Licensing Authorisation. The new company would effectively replace the majority of existing LIAT services throughout the region and would seek to develop new markets.

An approach, methodology and structure for the establishment of the new Barbados air carrier were detailed in the document.

It said a traditional approach to fleet planning in a startup airline with a projected requirement of 10 aircraft would be to launch initially with two to three aircraft and a limited route network and build thereafter incrementally over a period of 18 months to the final fleet number. The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has funded, via shareholder governments, LIAT’s wholly owned ATR -42 aircraft.

The plan calls for the title of those aircraft to be passed on to the Barbados Government either through shareholder agreement or through CDB taking charge of the aircraft and reassigning them.

… finish reading CNS article Proposal for Barbados to Quit LIAT

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, CARICOM

Land use, land theft, backroom deals a worry for small Caribbean island nations

Barbados Expropriation

How long must ordinary Bajans put up with corrupt politicians compulsorily acquiring private lands – to be converted into private profits for the political elites and their friends?

“Sobbing uncontrollably, his mother said she was afraid that her house and land would be taken away.” (Nation News)

“A small State such as Trinidad & Tobago must accord a very high priority to the judicious management and utilization of its land resources or perish. All elements of land policy must must be designed to ensure that these finite resources are efficiently utilized and husbanded in such a manner as to serve the long term interests of the national community.”

—Conclusion of “A New Administration and Policy for Land” (19 November, 1992)

Afra Raymond’s new piece Our Land talks about the same problems we have in Barbados with greedy elites using public and private lands like their own little piggy bank.

Between crooked lawyers scamming little old ladies like Violet Beckles, and Bajan politicians doing backroom deals, land ownership is a dangerous jungle out there.

Any Bajan has heard the stories and sometimes read the news…

– A relative of a Government Minister ends up with a building lot after an expropriation.

– An official advises his cousin to buy a piece of useless land, and six months later the government expropriates the land and pays a very good price – far more than the original purchase price. Who knew that a new road was to be built there? Don’t ask!

– For fifteen years, a farmer tries unsuccessfully to re-zone his land for housing, but then gives up and sells out. Thirty days after the new owner (and friend of government) buys the farm, the zoning approval comes through and the land is now worth millions. No one knows who the real shareholders are.

– Prime land is expropriated for “low income” government-sponsored housing, and eleven months later a Government Minister moves into a new home in the “low income housing” sub-division. Of course, his girlfriend owns the home – not the Minister. (Barbados Government Minister Gline Clarke – House and Mercedes on Expropriated Land)

– “Back door” land expropriations where building permissions are denied for no good reason until the owner gives up or goes bankrupt over unpaid land taxes. While one arm of the government refuses permission to build, the other arm expropriates for back-taxes… and the land eventually ends up in the hands of a friend of the government.

When a politician gets his eyes on your land… it’s all over. Corrupt Barbados politicians prepare to expropriate widow’s land – probably for personal profits

… and on and on and on. Then when the citizens start ignoring the laws, the elites wonder about the state of the world.

“We can never move forward as a nation until we have men/women of integrity running our country – that is our problem, and it cannot be said too often.

Until then we will always be second raters, puffing and panting on the world stage with a veneer of progress, but the condos, concrete palaces and circumscribed greens of the golf courses which are admired, will not be our own. We will be strangers in the land of our birth, Oh! how our forefathers must weep, as to what has become of us.

So much pain, for so little gain, a pain “perpetuated” by those who felt the same warm confines, of the womb from whence we came.” Yardbroom, August 2007

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Filed under Barbados, Corruption, Crime & Law, Political Corruption, Politics & Corruption, Real Estate

How many tourists use Air Miles to travel to Barbados? We should know!

Barbados Grantley Airport Tarmac

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

Way back in 2001 we registered a business name and established a website domain under the trading title of MILESCloser.

 The idea then, which still has not changed, was to target the hundreds of millions of frequent flyer members who largely use their accumulated miles on vacation or holiday travel.

One of the impediments to growing the United States market especially, has been the reality that because we are a little further away from key source market cities. Inevitably airfares are often more expensive, resulting in the overall cost of the ‘vacation’ making it more difficult when competing with other destinations.

This is especially true with non-gateway departure points. A good example is Minneapolis-St. Paul to Barbados where the current cheapest bookable fare online in October or early November is US$761 economy return. For the same dates the miles required are just 25,000 and US$60.60 in taxes.

So by getting rid of the perceived ‘high’ airfare, we then only have to compete on accommodation options.

Gone are the days when you only earned miles by flying. In fact it is now almost the entire opposite. Most miles are gained by non-airline purchases.

The first major airline loyalty programme, American AAdvantage now boasts over 1,000 partners who offer miles simply by selecting a method of payment.

Among these are financial institutions who offer huge mileage incentives to sign-up with particular brand name credit cards, which in many cases grant sufficient miles on application for the first flight, without any or a very limited level of purchasing.

By selectively using a miles earning credit card to pay every day bills, it is surprising just how quickly the numbers mount. Personally I have not bought an airline ticket for myself for some time, but have currently amassed nearly 600,000 miles.  Continue reading

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Filed under Aviation, Barbados, Barbados Tourism

Chinese contractors in the Caribbean can build it cheap… but then the walls collapse

china fail caribbean

by Afra Raymond

by Afra Raymond

This article is about the Las Alturas Enquiry into the collapse of two new Morvant apartment buildings erected by China Jiangsu International Corporation (CJIC) for the Housing Development Corporation (HDC).

This Enquiry seems a politically-motivated one into a serious failure of professional practice which could have cost human lives. It is only in its opening stages, but it is already clear to me that this episode is one which contains serious lessons for our country in terms of the role of Enquiries; the role of the Chinese contractors; the culture of non-enforcement which we practice and of course, the impact of targets and political objectives on proper process.

In the case of Las Alturas this is a large-scale multiple-housing project constructed on a former quarry-site on the Lady Young Road, just south of the lookout. Two apartment buildings which were completed in late 2010 were eventually declared uninhabitable due to severe cracking and the proposed demolition of those structures was announced at the end of May 2012. Each building comprised 24 three-bedroom/two-bathroom apartments, with the total cost of those buildings stated by HDC to be in the $29M range. The buildings were erected by CJIC on the design/build basis which usually places all responsibility for soil investigation, design and construction onto the contractor…

… continue reading Afra Raymond’s Riding the Dragon

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Filed under Building Collapse, China, Trinidad and Tobago

Fallon Best takes issue with Honey Bea III sea turtles accusation

Honey Bea Fishing Barbados

 Honey Bea Charter’s crew members respect the turtles!

by Fallon Best Christ Church

by Fallon Best
Christ Church

Contrary to what BFP’s article about the Honey Bea III states, no one has ever apparently contacted the owner Mr Elson Best directly of Honey Bea III. (See BFP’s Bridgetown Careenage and Harbour beautiful… but deadly to Sea Turtles?)

The telephone number is public on brochures all over Barbados and on website HoneyBeaBarbados. Telephone 230.9936. The recently retired captain at the time has worked for Honey Bea Charters for approximately 40 years and the mate for almost 20 years.

These are experienced local fishermen in a small tourism service and have never to my knowledge ever landed nor fished for turtles, especially on Honey Bea nor in the Careenage. Many charters boats feed fish and bait scraps to turtles in the Careenage and tourists usually enjoy watching them surface. They inquire on the spot about cruises to snorkel and feed turtles on West Coast and fishing charters. You can imagine the crew would be the last people to deliberately fish, hook, land a turtle in the Careenage as they support their life’s living off the turtle feeding practise.

On the other hand, turtles bite at fishermen’s bait meant for fish regularly and if a hook was overboard during feeding, the high probability is the hook disintegrated or came out of the turtles mouth.

I wish Barbados Free Press the best with quality investigative journalism in the future, which protects the rights of the vulnerable, the working class and exposes injustice, unethical and criminal behavior in society – but of course based on facts and not any uncertain libel accusations which may neglect truth and slander hard working people and more innocent members of society.

Fallon Best (relative of the owner)

2 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism, Environment, Wildlife

Fifty years of advice for Barbados Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker

Adrian Loveridge - tourism expert, hotel owner

Adrian Loveridge – tourism expert, hotel owner

While this column has never been about individuals, I celebrated a milestone birthday a couple of weeks ago and could not help but spend a little time reflecting on the fifty years that I have largely spent in the tourism industry.

Different people evaluate success or what the definition of it differently and there can be nothing wrong with that.

My introduction to the world of commerce at a very early age was driven not so much by any desire to become fabulously wealthy with all the associated trappings, but more by the basic need to fend financially for myself without the benefit of sustained further education, as a result of a prolonged illness.

Looking back, I learnt very quickly and by the age of 21, I had already become the majority shareholder and managing director of four companies which employed scores of people. This is not a boast, but a simple fact.

By the time I reached 24 years, I had been offered the position of executive chairman of a substantial British tour operator. After turning the job down, it is almost impossible and probably totally futile to speculate on what difference that move would have made to my life.

Not that long ago I experienced a public admonishment by someone that can only be described as successful and it got me thinking of what exactly was the attraction that has kept me in this industry virtually all of my adult life. On reflection it never was about the money, but the means to travel and experience a world of differing cultures, architecture and experiences.

Now having past retirement age who knows what opportunities lay ahead.

It seems that it takes almost a lifetime to acquire sufficient skills and knowledge to effectively make things happen. And when you hopefully reach that point, is there is still sufficient energy, drive and desire to use it productively for the greater good?

Decades ago, naively I thought I could change the world. Nowadays, my goals are somewhat more realistic and but perhaps stand a greater chance of ‘success’, whatever that really means.

One thing for sure, very few objectives can be attained without help and I will be eternally grateful to those who have looked beyond the petty partisan politics and purely focused on what positive differences can be achieved.

Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker

I would also like to congratulate our new Junior Minister of Tourism, Chloe Walker, and plea with our policymakers to give her more than just superficial exposure to decisions taken within the sector. One way, even if it’s just in an observer capacity, would be to let her attend the frequent Barbados Tourism Marketing, Product Authority and Hotel and Tourism Association board meetings.

With the stated intention of increasing our e-commerce and social media presence in all source markets, a bright young and fresh contribution could add meaningful value to any plans yet to be implemented.

So Chloe, if you read this column and I could proffer just one piece of advice…

If you make this industry your chosen career, remember that success is not always measured by the number of private jets and yachts you have. For many of us, just making people feel very special and appreciated, is more than enough reward.

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Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism