Although Treasure Bay VI Corp., owners of Divi Carina Bay Resort & Casino in Christiansted, St. Croix, Virgin Islands, don’t agree that they currently owe the government there any money, they have made a good faith effort and tendered a payment of $473,350 to Acting Attorney General, Claude Walker, to make sure their property can continue to operate. Local media had reported that about $1.45 million was due from casino license fees, revolving fund revenues, casino and racetrack revenue, and interest on alternative investment tax. AG Walker threatened to take “immediate action” by last Wednesday if the bill wasn’t settled.
The public face of the dispute is understandably easier on the eyes than the nitty-gritty nuts and bolts behind the scenes that reveal a major schism in protocol and relations.
The company issued a statement yesterday (.PDF via stcroixsource) wherein TBVI President Susan Varnes said, “We are happy that our representatives had the opportunity to meet with Acting Attorney General Walker on October 15 to share our position that although we do not believe that any amount is due, we are very willing to work with the office of the Department of Justice, and have in good faith made this payment.” Ms. Varnes further stated, “It has also been agreed with the Casino Control Commission (CCC) and the office of the Department of Justice that once due process has been served, and if TBVI is vindicated, we will then be entitled to a return of the funds.”
However, a letter obtained via the viconsortium.com (.PDF) website shows just how troubling the process of demanding disputed funds may have been. Counsel for Treasure Bay fears that their reputation and that of Divi Resorts may have been compromised due to perceived miscommunication between the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission (CCC) and the office of the Department of Justice – and that, other than $435,000 of licensing fees, the balance of the +/-$1.5 million was actually claims by the CCC against the VI government. The misunderstanding may be down to a preliminary forensic accounting report that Treasure Bay claims they had not been privy to before receiving the demand for payment.
TBVI also claims that the demand letter from the DOJ dated October 9, 2015 was not received until the morning of October 14th and was postmarked October 13, 2015 (letter.PDF).
Employee licensing has also become an issue the company wishes to settle, although they claim the deficiencies in that matter belong to the CCC rather than the casino.
President Varnes ended her press release statement on a confident and hopeful note saying that it remains a priority for her and the St Croix management team to work with the Attorney General’s office. “We look forward to being provided constitutional due process, which has to date not been provided. We are confident that once the facts are laid out to the full Casino Control Commission and the Acting Attorney General, it will become clear that the facts are on our side. We have to remind everyone that the audit has not been validated due to the fact that the full Commission, TBVI and our legal counsel has yet to see it,” said Varnes.