KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, March 5, IWN — Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has denied asking Britain’s Serious Fraud Office to investigate Harlequin Property, as the company’s chairman, Dave Ames, claimed in a letter to investors last week.
“That’s a lie,” Eustace said on his weekly radio programme on Monday.
“I have not written to anybody. It’s the investors [who] have written their lawyers and asked them to do that in England,” Eustace further said.
“That is not me; I can’t do that. … These people invested … millions of pounds and they can’t see anything for it and they want back their money,” the former prime minister said.
Eustace noted that investors in Harlequin, about which the U.K.’s Financial Services Authority has issued an alert, are mostly pensioners.
Harlequin says it specialises in luxury five star resorts in some of the best locations in the Caribbean.
It offers property investors the opportunity to buy overseas properties, ranging from studio apartments to six bedroom luxury villas, off-plan at well below market value. The properties are freehold and offer excellent potential for high capital appreciation and an annual rental income, the company says.
But Eustace says that while pensioners have invested their money, “there is no building for them to see, no room for them to go to.
“What that has to do with me,” he said of the efforts in the U.K. to freeze Harlequin’s assets.
“I [am] getting them (investors) to get a case? I don’t know them. But you are trying to fool people here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, ‘Oh, it’s Eustace fault.’ The fault is that they did not build for the people what they were supposed to build and people want back their money and they are taking legal action to get back their money,” Eustace said.
Eustace further said that most of the comments he makes about Harlequin, which owns the Buccament Bay Resort here, has to do with the money the company owns Vincentians.
“The workers, farmers and small contractors, those are who I spoke about and will continue to speak about. I want them to get their money,” Eustace said.
“I can’t bring a case against Buccama or tell the United Kingdom fraud squad what to do. I can’t tell our fraud squad here anything, far less the UK.
“They must be think Vincentians are fools or something. I want people to understand that people in other parts of the world and here in St. Vincent have lost millions of dollars because of this exercise that is going on here with Harlequin.
“And people are seeking every means to get back their money. And if it means closing down Harlequin, that is what they are going to do. That has nothing to do with me, either the New Democratic Party,” Eustace further said.
Ames, in his letter last week, said the SFO had not contacted Harlequin as part of any investigation, and blamed Eustace for the allegation.
“It is an attempt to embroil Harlequin in local politics and is driven by those seeking to harm Harlequin. As far as Harlequin is concerned, there is no reason why the SFO would or should be looking at the company. However, in the event that the SFO wishes to discuss these matters with Harlequin, Harlequin will be happy to do so,” Ames further said.