Harlequin Hotels restarts Barbados development amid fraud claims
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday November 17, 2011 – Harlequin Hotels & Resorts and Harlequin Developments announced today that it has resumed work at both The Merricks Resort Show Village and H Barbados boutique hotel thanks to the approval of an interim concessions package by the Barbados Ministry of Finance for The Merricks Resort Show Village.
This announcement comes as the British-based resort development firms seeks to quash fraud charges that it alleges have been made against it by former Harlequin managing director Padraig O’Halloran, who they in turn charge systematically defrauded the company during his tenure of US$13.5 million.
Harlequin alleges that O’Halloran is the one behind the spoof site “HarleCON”, which has leveled a number of fraud charges against the developers, their chairman David Ames, and his family. These fraud charges (which cannot be detailed here under legal threat from Harlequin) are being regularly updated on the website, which went live October 31, and is reportedly receiving around 1,000 hits each day.
The developers have defended their position in a public statement issued last week linking the website to the result of a judgment in the Barbados High Court against O’Halloran, which was handed down around the same time the website was set-up. Calling the website’s charges “malicious gossip”, Harlequin asserted that the truth would out during the court trials, which have been ongoing against O’Halloran since 2010 when he fled the region leaving a string of unfinished Harlequin projects in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines.
In the meantime, Ames has been seeking to bolster confidence in Harlequin’s development capabilities, noting in the statement issued today that they had completed foundations and substructure of the Show Village, and plan to have the construction finished in March 2012.
Commenting on the developments Ames said, “It is fantastic to have both sites moving ahead quickly now. We are very committed to continued significant investment in Barbados and we are grateful that the interim concessions were finally approved by the Hon. Minister Sinckler and his team at the Department of Finance. This has allowed us to immediately resume works and will result in the creation of up to 200 construction jobs between both projects. Although Harlequin Developments have resumed work on both projects, we are still awaiting approval of the concessions package under the TDA for the luxury boutique hotel H Barbados.”
Garrett Ronan, Harlequin Hotels and Resorts Vice President of Hotel and Resort Development, commented, “We are working closely with the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Finance to expedite these concessions and we are hopeful they can be issued this week. This would help us get H Barbados back on schedule for completion in November 2012, despite the recent delays. We are very appreciative of the recent approval granted by the Hon. Christopher Sinckler and his team, which has allowed us to move swiftly with The Merricks Resort Show Village. As a gesture of good faith, we also resumed work on H Barbados, but we do urgently need approval on the standard concessions to keep things moving there.”
Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is behind a number of luxury all-inclusive resorts in St Vincent & The Grenadines, Barbados, St Lucia and the Dominican Republic. The first resort, Buccament Bay Resort, opened in August 2010 on the island of St Vincent. Its new brand, H Hotels, is a luxury boutique hotel collection and the first hotel, H Barbados, is due to open in 2012, followed by an H Hotel in St Lucia shortly afterwards.