All Caribbean countries should take notice of this matter. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Barbados and all of you, take notice.
It’s another case of I told you so, and I and others did just that.
According to UK newspaper reports, thousands of people who invested in a British-based company Harlequin Resorts’ Caribbean luxury resort would have no access to official UK compensation if the scheme collapsed.
The Financial Services Authority, the UK finance watchdog, has issued an official “alert” concerning Harlequin Property, based in Honywood Road, Basildon, Essex UK, which has taken an estimated £300million in deposits on the properties.
Many invested their retirement pensions and others re-mortgaged their UK homes to pay deposits.
According to the Essex newspaper, the Echo, "Since last April, the Echo has revealed the firm has sold at least 6,000 holiday rooms across seven resorts but only built about 300 at one of them ".
They are probably talking about the 300 rooms at the Buccament Resort project.
The UK FSA notice explains that Harlequin is not authorized, regulated or licensed by it to trade in or administer financial services, so there is no UK government backed protection scheme.
They said investments are often sold through a network of third party agents, including independent financial advisers, who have to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority. The Financial Services Authority has taken the unusual step of issuing the warning by letter to every financial service provider in the UK, even those that do not deal with Harlequin.
One of the problems in my mind is that Harlequin seems to have the same or similar named companies registered in several countries including the UK and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. I am not sure people actually know who they are dealing with.
Even Vincentian suppliers of goods, service and machinery are confused and given the run around, ending back up their own bottoms when trying to get paid.
Gonsalves and his ULP government have been warned on numerous occasions on this and such like sites about Harlequin. Yet Gonsalves chose to give Dave Ames citizenship.
We all remember the Millennium fiasco, Gonsalves was warned about Millennium and William Wise, did nothing and hundreds of people lost up to US$130 million between them. Both Gonsalves and the GG appeared on the Millennium website almost to the end, in doing so encouraging investment, by the supposed creditability that these two brought to the company in doing so. I think that Gonsalves should have been investigated and questioned about Millennium.
Now Gonsalves and his cousin Julian Francis are supporting this Harlequin fiasco. Its time an enquiry was held into exactly what is going on with Harlequin and perhaps Dave Ames should be arrested and questioned for some reason to do with the matter.
If you all remember Julian Francis said if anyone has a problem with Harlequin he will try and sort it out. Well there are hundreds of investors, and hundreds of suppliers that have a problem, I suggest they all hold the government of SVG responsible and in particular PM Gonsalves and his cousin Senator Francis. They have heard the rumblings from long ago and done exactly nothing about it. In fact they have shown public support for Dave Ames and Harlequin.
I call on Prime Minister Dr Ralph E. Gonsalves to instruct our SVG FSA to issue a similar notice to that of the UK, putting such notice on the government website and in local and regional news papers.
It’s time to stop being seen to condone the Harlequin behaviour.