KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Feb. 18, IWN – Two BBC journalists have visited St. Vincent within the context of an investigation into Harlequin Property, the company that owns Buccament Bay Resort.
BBC journalist Paul Kenyon, of the corporation’s “Panorama” programme, told I-Witness News on Sunday that there are “concerns about the operation of Harlequin”.
He said British investors “have put millions and millions of pounds sterling into the company and they want to see what the results is”.
“The main thrust of the programme is about Harlequin and the resorts they have around the Caribbean,” he said
He said Dave Ames of Harlequin “owes millions and millions of pounds back in the U.K.”
Investors in Ames’ company, Kenyon said, expected some properties to be built in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.
“He’s rolled back the date; promises have been breached and he is being investigated in the UK by the authorities there and we are interested in his relationship with your prime minister, as part of our investigation,” said Kenyon, who Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves accused of accosting him on a plane in Barbados.
Kenyon further told I-Witness News he and a colleague were in St. Vincent for four days as part of the investigation.
He said they spoke to the Leader of the Opposition, Arnhim Eustace.
“He gave us a response to various questions we put to him,” Kenyon said.
The investigation, he said, found that Harlequin owes Vincentians “an awful lot of money”.
“He (Eustace) gave me various pieces of evidence about that,” the British journalist said of his conversation with Eustace.
“So, there are people in St. Vincent owed money by Harlequin, and there are investors, in the UK, many of whom have invested their entire pensions in Harlequin and they want their money back but, they don’t get their money back,” Kenyon said.
He said he also spoke to contractors owed by Harlequin.
One was owed EC$80,000 and another was able to collect only some of the $1.2 million owed.
“There are a lot of people who have not been paid for their goods or services delivered; that’s my understanding,” Kenyon said.
“I understand that there would be some benefit,” he said of the potential impact of the resort on the country’s development.
“If he (Ames) did what he said he would originally do, then that would be a good thing,” he said.