Brother defends brother in Levera project saga

The brother of controversial Utah businessman, Robert Martin Oveson has said that there is nothing sinister in him dropping the name Oveson and to be known only as Robert Martin.

Stephen Randall Oveson, Director of the Levera, which was formed to develop the Levera hotel project

Randall Oveson hosted a press conference in St. George’s to brief reporters on the issue following revelations in THE NEW TODAY that Robert Martin Oveson is also the same person as Robert Martin.

The American investor was doing business under the name of Robert Martin Oveson when he was accused by several U.S and Canadian citizens of fraudulently taking money from them in 2008 at a failed Housing unit ad Condo project in Mexico.

One of the aggrieved parties, Robert Mason of Canada identified him from a story and picture appearing on “Now Grenada” website on the ground-breaking ceremony held in November for the multi-million dollar Levera project in the north of the island.

Mason wrote to Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell and Governor-General,  Dame Cecile La Grenade to alert them about doing business with Oveson who was parading in Grenada as Robert Martin.

According to the explanation offered by Randall Oveson, his brother started using only Robert Martin when he started the 23-room Boca de Iguanas Beach Hotel project in Manzanillo, Mexico.

He said that “the name Oveson is very hard to say in Spanish” and that “people would get all caught up in how to pronounce and spell it”.

“…Robert Martin is very simple to say in Spanish so he started introducing himself as Robert Martin…because it is very easy translation”, he told reporters.

The brother also addressed the four criminal convictions of Robert Martin Oveson in 2013 at a high court in Utah.

Utah prosecutors charged Oveson with two counts of assault, as well as burglary, and domestic violence in the presence of a child, in a case involving domestic violence against his wife.

The brother said it was simple “a situation where he (Oveson) was trying to get back his children who had been taken away against his will by the wife.

He told reporters that “those charges were all reduced to the misdemeanor level (making) it equivalent to a traffic ticket”.

“He (Oveson) spent one night in prison the night that it (the domestic violence incident) happened and never spent one more night in prison,” he added.

Oveson was handed a suspended sentence of 365 days for the conviction of Burglary, a ‘Class A Misdemeanor.”

He received a suspended sentence of 180 days on each count of Assault – attempt to do bodily injury to another, a ‘Class B Misdemeanor.’

For the conviction of Domestic violence in the presence of a child a ‘Class B Misdemeanor, Oveson received a suspended sentence of 180 days.

The brother sought to reassure reporters that Oveson is no longer a Director of the company, which is the driving force behind the Levera project.

He said that his brother’s resignation as Director of Levera Trading Ltd was not as a result of any “relationship issue, but more out of concern of the perception that he might be perceived as being negative” given all the adverse press about Oveson in recent times.

“It’s not a relationship issue. We asked him to resign as Director and he did immediately. There was no struggle, question or concern,” said Randy.

“He (Robert) wants to see this project succeed just as much as anyone and is concerned about the negative press…so it was more a matter of him just making a simple decision and saying I need to resign as director,” the brother told reporters.

THE NEW TODAY notes that Oveson’s resignation in December came weeks before this newspaper broke the story about his checkered past including allegations of fraud in the Mexico project.

The brother also denied that Oveson is an agent under the Grenada’s passport-selling scheme known as  Citizenship by Investment (CBI).

According to Randy, Robert Martin / Robert Martin Oveson is not a Grenadian citizen, has never applied for Grenadian citizenship and “is no longer the Director of any company that is affiliated with the small island”.

THE NEW TODAY has obtained the copy of a Business Card that was handed out by Robert Martin in which he associated himself with NTL Trust, a company registered in Nevis.

NTL Trust is also listed on the Grenada Government official website as an approved Agent for the island’s CBI programme.

A release put out on January 30 by the developers of the Levera project indicated that Robert Martin Oveson had resigned from the company in December but “continues to play key roles in the running of the Levera project”.

Randy acknowledged that his brother has been a marketing agent involved in citizenship by investment for at least six years with the Nevis-based NTL Trust.

THE NEW TODAY searched the website of NTL Trust and Oveson was identified as its Managing Director.

“I know that NTL Trust has been a marketing agent for (this) island. My brother works for NTL, he is not NTL,” remarked Randy.

The man with the new face behind the Levera project also commended the Keith Mitchell-led New National Party (NNP) government for the “careful” manner in which it was implementing the CBI programme.

“The government is very, very careful. They (government) have been doing everything they can, they are taking their time (and) doing the right checks…and I can tell you that not all our investors that have applied have received citizenship”, Randy told reporters.

“There have been denials…the government is absolutely watching everything that is going on,” he said, referencing to “at least 2” of the “little more than a dozen investors” who applied citizenship under the Levera project were denied Grenadian status.

In response to questions surrounding how the Levera investors are being affected by the denial of Grenadian citizenship status, Randy said, “it depend on the contract that the individual (would have) signed”.

He noted that there are contracts, which “are conditional upon citizenship and contracts that are not conditional upon citizenship.”

When asked if the funds of these investors would be returned if citizenship is not approved by government, Randy said: “If the contract is conditional upon citizenship being approved then absolutely we will return their funds if their citizenship is not approved.”

The Levera Beach Resort has been under construction since November.

The multi-million dollar project will encompass an 80-unit boutique hotel, 40 hotel cottages, 20 casitas and villas, infinity pools, spa, and an organic orchard to be used to service the 2 farm-to-table restaurants.

The Mitchell government sees the project as crucial to creating much-needed jobs in the northern parishes of the island.

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