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Brown denies waterfront deal was struck

Developer Michael MacLean abandoned court proceedings after he failed to win $156 million in compensation for the voiding of his development proposal for the Hamilton waterfront, Walton Brown, the Minister of Home Affairs said yesterday.

The Bermuda Government successfully petitioned the courts on Thursday to drop its arbitration with Mr MacLean and argued that the developer had declined to take part since 2015.

The 262-year lease was granted in 2013 by the Corporation of Hamilton to Mr MacLean's Allied Development Partners Limited.

But the lease was struck down by the One Bermuda Alliance government the following year — triggering a call for compensation.

Mr Brown told the House of Assembly that arbitration started in July 2014 and Mr MacLean lodged a claim for $156 million that was “not accepted by the Government”.

The developer's companies launched an unsuccessful constitutional challenge to the arbitration in 2015 — after which Mr MacLean no longer took part in the proceedings.

Mr Brown added that Mr MacLean “has not responded to efforts by the Government to advance the matter”.

The minister was accused by youth activist Eron Hill of engaging in backroom negotiations with Mr MacLean to settle the issue, but Mr Brown categorically denied “any discussion with Mr MacLean of any settlement”.

Asked by Opposition leader Patricia Gordon-Pamplin whether he had made arrangements with the developer to settle the matter before becoming minister, Mr Brown said: “I was not involved in any dialogue or negotiation with Mr MacLean on that matter.”

Ms Gordon-Pamplin was heard to respond “wow” from across the floor of the House.

Mr Brown afterwards told The Royal Gazette that he would not comment on “information put on social media”.

He said that Mr Hill had not contacted him — and added he had not yet decided whether to pursue a legal case over the allegations.

Mr Brown earlier told MPs that although the arbitration had been dropped “the issues have not come to an end”.

He added that development rights for the Par-la-Ville car park were closely linked to the waterfront development, with legislation passed by the OBA to allow the Corporation to grant the rights “concurrent with its voiding of the waterfront lease”.

Mr Brown said: “The previous government authorised the Corporation of Hamilton to back an $18 million loan to a company controlled by Mr MacLean. The court has since found that the Corporation did not have the authority to grant the loan guarantee.

“We now know that a large portion of these funds guaranteed by the Corporation were directed overseas and spent on luxury items having no relationship to the purpose for which they were intended.”

Mr Brown said purchases included UK property, an engagement ring and an Aston Martin car.

Mr Brown added that the Government “stands ready to bring the issues involving the voiding of the waterfront lease to an end and is fully mindful of the interests of those claiming redress for the cancellation of the leases and the public purse”.

Mr Brown declined to give details of efforts to recover the missing $18 million — which is sought by lenders Mexico Infrastructure Finance ­— and said the matter “still has court proceedings pending”.

City of Hamilton Waterfront (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published November 17, 2017 at 3:22 pm (Updated November 19, 2017 at 11:10 am)

Brown denies waterfront deal was struck

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