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New Dominica development agreement raises due diligence issues
Published on February 24, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

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Range Development's Mohammed Asaria (L) and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, who welcomed the signing of the MOU as the first under the investment arm of Dominica’s economic citizenship programme

By Caribbean News Now contributor

ROSEAU, Dominica -- A recent announcement by the government of Dominica that it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a company called Range Developments for the construction of a high-end luxury hotel in the north of the island has again called into question the extent of the due diligence actually carried out by Caribbean governments before entertaining, let alone signing such development agreements.

According to Roosevelt Skerrit, Dominica’s prime minister and minister of finance, the MOU was the first to be signed under the investment arm of the country’s economic citizenship programme.

Since 2012, the Range companies have been operating around the world under the apparently unincorporated pseudonym of Range Holdings, claiming to be based in Dubai. However, only one of the Range companies – Range Hospitality – appears to do any business in Dubai, where it is licensed as a real estate broker.

This may be confirmed by means of a simple check using the e-Services page of the official website of the Department of Economic Development in Dubai, which confirms that Range Hospitality is licensed as a "Real Estate buying & selling Brokerage" and there are no registered or licensed trade names under Range Developments or Range Holdings.

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Range Hospitality: Licensed In Dubai as a real estate broker

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There are no trade names registered or licensed in Dubai under Range Developments or Range Holdings

The initial concept promoted by the two principals of Range, Mohammed Asaria and Munaf Ali, was to build a hotel for religious pilgrims and their flagship project by another group company Range Hospitality was "The Range-Karbala", which was to be constructed as five-star hotel residences in Karbala, Iraq.

Range Hospitality sold off-plan units to Moslem pilgrims, which were scheduled to be delivered to the pilgrims/timeshare buyers by December 2013. However, the Range Hospitality Facebook page, which had in the past provided frequent construction progress reports, has not been updated since June 13, 2013.

In 2012, the Range group announced another project in St Kitts called Park Hyatt St Kitts at Christophe Harbour, and embarked on an extensive promotional campaign to start selling off-plan units, focusing largely on the benefits of the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme.

According to the Range Developments website, a US$430,000 investment through its “limited partnership structure in Park Hyatt St Kitts entitles you and your family to apply for citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis.”

Meanwhile, the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship programme came under international scrutiny in November last year, when Alizeera Moghadhan, an Iranian national, reportedly told officials in Canada that he paid $1 million for a St Kitts and Nevis diplomatic passport.

A brochure published by Range Development also deals extensively with the benefits of the St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment programme, as well as an assertion published by the Prime Minister’s Office in St Kitts and Nevis in 2012 that “Range Hospitality … is planning to invest US$1billion in new projects in the Middle East and St Kitts over the next three to four years.”
 
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