Outspoken Labour Senator, Ray Roberts wants a direct answer from the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government as to the ownership of Mt Harman in the south of the island.
Speaking to reporters last week, Sen. Roberts said that as part of his efforts to find out the true owners of the property, he has submitted a number of questions to this effect to the Leader of Government Business in the Senate, Simon Stiell.
He pointed to a document which he retrieved from the Treasury indicating that the 240 acres of land at Mt. Hartman was sold to one, E.J Miller of Inter-continental Grenada Limited for US $7 million.
However, Sen. Roberts said the document has no corresponding Treasury number to show that there was a financial transaction.
According to the Labour representative, it is for this specific reason that he was prompted to ask for receipts from government showing proof of sale of Mt. Hartman.
“Generally when you buy a piece of land and it’s conveyed … there has to be a corresponding number that relates and reflects payment in the Treasury. This one has none, so it was on this premise that I requested that I see a receipt or receipts pertaining to that venture,” he said.
Roberts stated that the Leader of government business could obtain this basic information from the Accountant General in the Ministry of Finance.
“…If money was paid, it must be recorded…if E.J Miller pays US $7 million, there has to be some record of it”, he remarked.
Miller was able to get a former NNP government of Dr. Mitchell to guarantee a multi-million dollar loan with a Bank in Europe on the premise that he would construct a Ritz Carlton hotel at Mt. Hartman.
The American investor reportedly drew down the loan and disappeared without building the hotel.
The European Bank took Grenada to court and was able to get a ruling in its favour for the money owed to be repaid by the local Treasury.
Sen. Roberts said he is hopeful of receiving an answer to his question at the next sitting of the Senate on July 11th.
He suggested that the method used by Prime Minister Mitchell in providing answers to the last government dealings with the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) can be applied in providing answers about the ownership of Mt. Hartman.
“I notice the Prime Minister was able to provide answers to the last government dealings with the NIS. He has a complete record and I would expect the state to keep a record of this because I am not making this up…the name of the former Governor General (Sir Daniel Williams) is involved, so there must be some kind of record and we must set the record straight.
“…I would hope in the answer I am not given words, I am given documents so I can know who is the owner, whether the people of Grenada own Mt Hartman or there are new owners.
Sen. Roberts is believed to have resisted attempts by Senate President, Chester Humphrey to rewrite his questions.
The Labour representative is also seeking answers from government on questions related to another company named Spice Casino Resort and Entertainment Limited of which embattled Chinese investor, Charles Liu and his wife are named as Directors.
Liu has been charged by Security Exchange Commission (SEC) in the United States with fraud in connection with his use of an EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme.
The Chinese investor is accused of diverting monies earmarked for a cancer treatment facility in Canada to personal accounts involving himself and his wife.
The SEC has frozen all bank accounts of Liu who is known to be the major financier of a proposed US$2 billion tourism project planned for Mt. Hartman.
Sen. Roberts wants to know if the Spice Casino Resort and Entertainment Limited is part of the Mt. Hartman project.
“If he owns it, we must know when that was done and how it was done and the people of Grenada must be told these things because we’re hearing that the man’s assets are frozen.
“We are hearing that what is in the United States, we have no literature to back that up so we must know the status of Mt. Hartman and I trust that the respect and the courtesy would be extended to these questions because I am not making this up.
“…If this guy (Liu) owns Hog Island or he owns Mt. Hartman, let us know how much he paid for it or whether it was a deed of gift. The government can give you a deed of gift, let us know, but we don’t seem to know who owns it and it must be answered because whether we like it or not, the guy has been charged with fraud, you can’t escape it…”.
The Mitchell-led government has indicated that despite Liu’s legal problems in the U.S, the Mt. Hartman project is proceeding because there are other interested investors lined up.