by Shawn Cumberbatch
Barbadian creditors, including the National Insurance Scheme and several business owed millions of dollars by troubled English company Harlequin, are facing an uphill battle to get their monies.
And indications this evening are that they are unlikely to get any real help from a British duo appointed to rescue Harlequin, which has stopped work on two tourism projects in Barbados.
Barbados TODAY investigations revealed that while a number of Barbadians owed money are awaiting word on when they were likely to received the funds, Harlequin Property Joint Administrators Anthony Davidson and Stephen Ryman of Shipleys LLP were now trying to account for $16. 4 million they say is owed by three Harlequin companies in Barbados.
Additionally, a report to Harlequin members and creditors, released ahead of a July 12 creditors meeting in the United Kingdom, contains no claims from any Barbadian interests, with St. Vincent-based Mustique Airways the lone Caribbean creditor named.
Harlequin Property, which is the trading name of British overseas property sales agent Harlequin Management Services (South East) Limited is said to be owed millions of dollars by enterprises it set up here, funds, which the administrators face an “uncertain” recovery.
Harlequin Luxury Hotels Barbados Limited owes its parent $10.3 million
Harlequin Boutique Hotel Limited Barbados owes $2.8 million, and Harlequin Barbados Property Limited owes $3.3 million.
With the parent company’s outstanding debts minus investor claims expected to reach almost $272.7 million, it also emerge that unless the creditors owed relate to the company’s business in the UK, the administrators would not be getting involved in recouping their money, a group which excluded Barbadian creditors.
This was the indication as it also emerged that it was Barbados where the root of Harlequin’s current problems might have started because it was here where the company, which started as a consultancy and management business but became an overseas property sales agent, bought its first property.
“Towards the end of 2005, early 2006, the director received an offer from a contact asking whether the company was interested in purchasing some land in Barbados for the sum of $10 million. Following various discussions, the land was eventually purchased by Mr David Ames, the director’s husband. After obtaining advice, Mr David Ames duly formed a company based and registered in the Caribbean, Harlequin Property (SVG) Limited, and the company became its sole UK agent,” the administrators report June 26, 2013 report stated.
“The company’s role was to seek investors who would be interested in investing in this new property development, which was to be undertaken in the Caribbean.”
The report also said “following the initial purchase of land in Barbados, further land was obtained by other Harlequin Caribbean Companies, which were operated by Mr David Ames, and the Company subsequently became the sole UK agent for these new property ventures”.
“During the course of trading, the company became the UK agent for developments in Barbados, St. Vincent, St. Lucia, the Dominican Republic and Brazil,” it added.
In addition to its upscale residential development at Merricks, St. Philip, Harlequin was also rebuilding the former Allamanda hotel on the South Coast.
In less than two weeks the administrators in England will present a proposal to creditors for their approval as they try to salvage Harlequin, an outcome likely to have implications for Barbados creditors. [email protected]