There are further legal troubles brewing for controversial Chinese investor, Charles Liu who is charged with fraud by the Security Exchange Commission in the United States over his financial dealings with a cancer treatment plant that he had promised to set up in California.
THE NEW TODAY can report that a EC$439, 215.00 lawsuit has been filed in the Supreme Court Registry in Grenada against four of the companies registered to do business on the island by Liu who is listed as Commercial Attache at the Grenada Embassy in Beijing.
This newspaper has obtained a copy of the suit filed on May 31, 2016 by local attorney-at-law, Francis Paul on behalf of a former employee of Liu who is claiming compensation for unlawful dismissal.
The court papers show that the dismissed employee, Violet Vanessa Ross of Sanko in Boca, St. George’s, who once served as an ordinary clerk at a local law office, played major roles in the incorporation of Liu’s four companies on the island – Grenada Resort Complex Ltd, Grenada Airline Corporation Ltd, St. George’s Hospital Development Ltd, and Spice Casinos Resorts and Entertainment Ltd.
Ross has instructed attorney Paul to take the controversial Chinese investor to court for firing her from the four companies including the US$2 billion proposed tourism project earmarked for Mt. Hartman in the south of the island.
She is alleging in the court documents filed by the attorney that Liu informed her that she was fired because he had fallen out with former Grenada Ambassador to China, Karl Hood who was instrumental in her getting the job.
She spoke of being informed by Liu in a message sent to her through Social Media that she was being fired.
The court papers said: “The Claimant’s work with the Defendant Companies was exemplary and above reproach. However, in or about the third week of August 2015, the said Mr. Liu in his capacity as CEO of the Defendant Companies informed the Claimant via “Whatsapp Messenger” that there were differences between him and the individual (Hood) that had recommended the claimant to him for the job and as a result he can no longer work with the Claimant thereby dismissing the Claimant as an employee.
“The Defendant failed to issue a formal letter of termination to the Claimant or
pay to the claimant allowances in lieu of termination. Further the Defendant Companies failed to give the claimant vacation leave or to pay allowances in lieu of leave”, it added.
According to Ross she was not only an employee of Liu but served as a Director and Vice-President of three of the registered companies.
She said some of her duties included “public relations and the daily operations” of the four companies.
The Boca resident started to work with Liu in June 2014 as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the four companies at a monthly salary of US$2000.00.
She spoke of her initial role being “public relations and coordinating the preparatory works required to incorporate the defendant companies”.
She stated in the court papers that as part of the work needed to register the companies she held meetings with a host of government ministers including Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell.
The court papers said in part: “In the pursuit of incorporating the Defendant Companies, the Claimant worked tirelessly as a liaison and together with the said Charles Liu met several local individuals, professionals, entities, and Government of Grenada officials and Ministers including Honourable Nicholas Steele, Oliver Joseph, Kenny Lalsingh, and the Honourable Alexandra Otway-Noel. Meetings were also held with the Citizenship By Investment Committee and the Attorney-General’s Chambers. These meetings were all held regarding the viability of the individual projects which the Defendant Companies intended to implement or launch in Grenada.
“Additionally, meetings were held with two Attorneys-at-law Chambers to prepare the legal documents for the incorporation of the Defendant companies. Thereafter meetings were held with representatives of Scotiabank to prepare and open accounts for the Defendant companies. After the incorporation of the Defendant companies, two meetings were also held with the Prime Minister, The Right Honourable Dr. Keith Mitchell, to obtain approval to proceed with the projects proposed to be implemented by the Defendant Companies”, it added.
Ross disclosed in the documents that after the companies were duly registered, she acted “as predominantly the Sole Director within the State of Grenada responsible for the daily administrative and other operations of the companies”.
In a clear attack on the manner in which Liu was operating the businesses, the former employee described him as conducting the affairs of the companies “in an unorthodox manner” and one who “did not hold formal meetings and/or make resolutions to implement decisions on behalf of the Defendant Companies”.
Ross made mention of a visit she made to China in March 2015 at the request of Liu to promote the Grenada-registered companies in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou provinces.
She is claiming compensation from Liu who had her operating in China without any monies for up to eight weeks.
“The Claimant was provided only with a return airline ticket to Grenada and the Defendant Companies failed to provide hotel accommodation and food to the Claimant or to provide to the Claimant a per diem to cover expenses including food, travel and shelter while in China”, the court papers said.
“The Claimant spent almost the entire eight (8) weeks in Beijing and had to seek private accommodations without any assistance whatsoever from the Defendant Companies. The only accommodation provided by the Defendant Companies was at Shanghai where the Claimant spent a day attending the said launch”, it added.
Ross is claiming US$15, 000 in compensation from Liu in per diem expenses while in China.
“The Claimant claims that the Defendant Companies should have provided a per diem of USD$250.00 per day for eight (8) weeks amounting to a total of USD$15, 000.00”, the court was told.
Attorney Paul outlined in the court papers the financial package that he would be pursuing against Liu on behalf of his client.
(1) General Damages for Breach of Contract and/or breach of statutory duty
(2). Special Damages as follows:
(i) Wages due and owing for month August 2015 – USD$2, 000.00
(ii) One month’s wages in lieu of notice pursuant to Section 79 (1) of the Employment Act of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada 2010 – US$2, 000.00
(iii). Vacation Wages for two weeks – USD$1, 000.00
(iv). Termination Allowance of one (1) week. Wage for each year of service pursuant to Section 84 of the Employment Act of the Continuous Revised Edition of the Laws of Grenada 2010 -USD$500.00
(v). Director’s fees due per month for each Defendant Company (USD$4, 000.00 x 4 = USD$16, 000.00 for Nine (9) months -USD$144, 000.00
(vi). Per diem for Sixty (60) days spent in China at USD$250.00 per day – US$15, 000.00
Total -EC$439, 215.00.
The law firm, owned by former Governor-General, Sir Daniel Williams which is associated with Liu’s project in the south of the island, has been corresponding with Paul on the Violet Vanessa Ross matter.