A commercial bank in St. Vincent has moved to recover millions in loans from businessman Leon “Bigger Bigs” Samuel and his company, Bigger Trucking and Block Construction Co. Ltd.
The loans, at FirstCaribbean International Bank (Barbados) Ltd., have moved from an equitable to a legal mortgage.
Samuel had borrowed money to finance his block-making plant at Yambou and his aggregate mining operation at Rabacca.
His mortgage was at an equitable status, meaning the bank, for security, took possession of all the original title documents of the property and Samuel signed a memorandum of deposit of the title deed.
But, in 2011, government authorities revoked his mining license, citing environmental concerns. This action effectively led to the closure of both operations.
As a result of the shutdown, Samuel defaulted on loan payments and the bank, through its lawyers Andrew Cummings QC and Anique Cummings, took Samuel and his company to the High Court seeking to recover the loan.
Following evidence adduced before the court, Justice Gertel Thom ordered that the equitable mortgage between Samuel, the company and the bank be upgraded to a legal mortgage — meaning that the bank gets control of the property if the loan is not repaid, as the property is used as security on the loan.
The High Court Judge stated, “It is hereby ordered that: (1) the equitable mortgage between Leon Samuel and Barclays Bank Plc now First Caibbean International Bank (Barbados) Limited bearing number 1842/1997 and dated 6th May 1997 be and is hereby upgraded to a legal mortgage. (2) The amount reflected as due and owing to the bank is ECC$4,211,659.97 being the principal balance and ECC$3,623,914.85 being the interest due and owing as at 19th May, 2014. (3) That interest is to accrue on the aid principal balance at the rate of 12% per annum.(4) The said legal mortgage is to be executed by the Registrar of the High Court of Justice upon payment of taxes and/or fees payable to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Justice Thom stated.
Samuel was represented by Akin John.