As Barbados makes a new push to increase tourism and investment from Ireland, one wealthy Irish investor has embarked on a “mission” to stop people from putting their hard-earned money in this country.
Allan McIntosh, who invested some US$2.5 million in a condo project in Christ Church three years ago that resulted in a dispute still before the local High Court, has written a letter to Prime Minister Mia Mottley dated August 24, 2020, expressing regret at ever spending his money in Barbados.
In his correspondence, a copy of which has been obtained by Barbados TODAY, McIntosh, who owns Emerald Investment, the private equity vehicle of Cairn Homes, Ireland’s largest house builder, is blaming this country’s legal system for his decision to try to push away potential investors.
The wealthy Irishman made it clear that he intends to be a potential barrier to efforts by the Government to lure much-needed foreign investment here as he referred to a recent article in The Irish Business Post with the Prime Minister seeking closer relationships with investors and another interview on Sky News promoting the Welcome Stamp initiative for remote workers.
As recently as this morning Mottley was on Irish radio promoting this island as the destination of choice to live and work remotely especially during the current COVID-19 pandemic.
But McIntosh, whose Emerald Investment company owns the Radisson Hotel at Dublin Airport, the Fleet Hotel in Dublin City centre and is the largest nursing home operators in Ireland, is not onboard.
“I am an Irish investor who invested in Barbados and I wish I’d never done so. Unless changes are made to the legal system in Barbados, I would urge no one to invest in Barbados, either commercially or to buy a condo, holiday home or even take a holiday there. Why? The legal system is not fit for foreign investment or even to settle minor disputes in a timely manner,” his letter to Prime Minister Mottley read.
“I invested in Barbados three (3) years ago. It was a substantial investment of US$2.5m in total and was to complete a project which had stagnated as the existing investors had run out of capital. It was meant to be the first of many investments in Barbados by Emerald.
A dispute arose between me and one of the shareholders of the project, Peter Odle,” the Irish business executive told Mottley.
In explaining his dissatisfaction with the legal system here, McIntosh recalled that since April 2018 he sued Odle, a prominent hotelier and recently-appointed chairman of the Barbados Port Incorporated (BPI), but the matter is yet to be heard.
“Emerald commenced an action in the Barbados courts and filed our case in April 2018. Having waited almost three years for the matter to be heard, we are currently awaiting the appointment of a new judge which was to be done on an urgent basis but almost two (2) months later, no judge has been appointed. So after almost three years after filing an action in the Barbados courts, we are still waiting for even a judge to be appointed let alone for a trial of the matter to occur,” the investor complained.
In seeking to further justify his view on the legal system in Barbados, McIntosh cited a parallel court case against Odle which was filed in another jurisdiction.
“A similar dispute with Mr. Odle was heard by the Guernsey courts within five (5) months of the filing of the action against Mr. Odle. The matter in Guernsey was settled in my favour in spite of efforts by Mr. Odle to forgo his liability under the loan agreement which was in force,” he stated.
“How can Barbados ask investors, in this case Irish investors, to commit hard-earned capital in Barbados when its court system does not allow the timely resolution of disputes? I would tell all potential investors – whether buying a second home, a condo or making an investment – not to invest in Barbados. Any dispute with the builder, the landowner, or the financier, will take many years and huge amounts of emotional and actual capital to resolve – in my case three years, hundreds of hours and tens of thousands of dollars and I still don’t even have an appointed judge let alone a date for the trial of the matter,” he declared in his correspondence to Prime Minister Mottley.
McIntosh said even a person taking a holiday should be aware that any dispute will take many years, many thousands in “wasted” costs and much anguish before any hope of resolution in “your” court system.
Striking a more conciliatory note, he sought to assure the Prime Minister that he was not writing to ask her to influence any ongoing matter before the courts, but was merely seeking his right to a “fair” trial in a timely manner.
“Regardless of the contents of my claim I am being denied due process by the defunct court system.
“An investor requires a legal system which permits the resolution of dispute in a timely manner whilst following due process. Barbados currently does not have this,” the business leader claimed.
McIntosh said the delays and errors by the courts are not COVID-related as they existed before March 2020.
“I have previously written to you and the Minister of Tourism and International Transport in November 2019 and offered to discuss and illustrate how the court system is not functioning in a manner suitable for inward investment. However, I did not receive a response to any of my letters. Again, I wrote to the Minister of Tourism and International Transport in January 2020 I am yet to receive a reply to any of my attempts to offer help,” the foreign investor told Mottley in his letter.
“My advice to anyone contemplating investing in Barbados is: ‘Do not Do It’,”McIntosh suggested.
He told the Prime Minister he would be willing to further discuss this matter with her or any of her Cabinet colleagues.
In his defence filed in the High Court Odle said that any sums of money allegedly due to the claimant, [McIntosh] were not payable to him at the time of filing his statement of claim.
Odle went on to explain that the agreement dated 11th October 2017 between the parties was for three years and the term had not yet expired.
In the meantime, McIntosh has copied his letter to several Irish ministers and diplomats as well as to Minister of Tourism Lisa Cummins and Chief Executive Officer of Invest Barbados Kay-Anne Brathwaite.
Up to the time of publication, Barbados TODAY was unable to reach either the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary Roy Morris or Minister Cummins regarding the Irishman’s letter. ([email protected])