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Desarrollos Group sets alarm bells ringing

Dear Sir,

There was a special sitting of the House of Assembly on Monday to debate the St George's Resort Act 2015 (the Act), which seeks to give the Desarrollos Group development rights over the former Club Med property in St George's, including a 262-year lease.

It is only recently that I was able to find any information about the Desarrollos Group on the internet.

Comments by minister Shawn Crockwell reflected in the Hansard Report of the House of Assembly on December 12, 2014 indicate that, at that time, the Desarrollos Group are a family-owned business and that he understood that they “were looking to put a website together”.

Eight months later, there is still not an official website providing information about the Desarrollos Group, but there is a prominent site reporting that the Desarrollos owners are accused of receiving monies from a significant Ponzi scheme in connection with a hotel contract they have in the Turks and Caicos Islands (see http://magneticmediatv.com/2015/04/desarrollos-owners-accused-in-ponzi-scheme-could-jeopardize-tci-ritz-carlton/).

This doesn't fill me with confidence that this is the right company for this contract. We know that here in Bermuda, the Desarrollos Group were given an extension on the period of time originally agreed to in order to do their due diligence, but what I am more interested in is whether or not due diligence was done by the Bermuda Government. I was taught that where there is smoke, Mr. Editor, there is, was or will be fire. With that in mind, I'd like to list a number of examples of contracts that Bermuda entered into without adequate due diligence and for which we have, or will, pay dearly.

Examples include:

• The 200-year plus lease given to Carl Bazarian for hotel development on the same site, when he had questionable history of any successful hotel development

• The 200-year plus waterfront contract

• The Par-la-Ville Hotel & Residences loan

• The Black Mayors Conference

• The new airport contract

• The Grand Atlantic project

The resulting costs to our community, both financially and to our credibility, are unacceptable.

I am extremely concerned about the Desarrollos Group even being considered for a contract to develop a hotel in St George's.

I fear that we will be taken into it blindly if we don't demand more in the way of information from our Government. If we don't maintain a standard of due diligence now, we can certainly expect additional and untold concessions for the next 262 years.

I urge members of the public to get involved if you are also concerned. Please speak up to your Parliamentarian ... your elected representative.

Thank you.

KIM SMITH

Minister Shawn Crockwell

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Published August 18, 2015 at 9:00 am (Updated August 18, 2015 at 1:44 am)

Desarrollos Group sets alarm bells ringing

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