Former Baha Mar Board member and key ally of Sarkis Izmirlian, the project’s original developer, Dionisio D’Aguilar, said that the recent decision by the government to complete the stalled $3.5 billion project places China Construction America (CCA) “back in the saddle,” in spite of Izmirlian’s contention that CCA was the party most responsible for the project’s failure, according to Tribune Business.
D’Aguilar told the news agency, “The whole reason we had the melt down was their failure to deliver, their inability to deliver on time and on budget, and produce a quality product,” and that the government’s concession to the Chinese sets CCA up for a multi-million dollar windfall.
Izmirlian alleged that the failure by CCA to deliver on its promise to complete the largest and priciest resort in the Caribbean on March 27, 2015, together with its “shoddy workmanship,” ultimately resulted in Baha Mar Ltd. filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in Delaware on June 29 last year. That ill-fated decision was followed by CCA, a subsidiary of a subsidiary of state-owned China State Construction Engineering Corp (CSCEC), refuting the claims and accusing Izmirlian of disrupting the project with countless design changes and mismanagement.
In addition to the Bahamian government, Export-Import Bank of China, or Exim, which provided a $2.45 billion in construction loans, the majority of the project’s financing, also opposed the U.S. bankruptcy filing along with CCA. Exim provided the loans with the proviso that Izmirlian could never fire CCA, no matter what, and that the job would be done by workers from China.
D’Aguilar also took issue with the presence of CCA on the five-person committee set to oversee the payments to the project’s Bahamian creditors. According to the news agency, D’Aguilar argued that CCA should not be on the committee and, “They’re a creditor that shouldn’t be paid, and I’m sure that they’ll be the first to be paid.” He said that CCA will be back on the project getting paid for work they failed to complete and that “they [CCA] had some extraordinarily outrageous claims that people said they weren’t entitled to. It’s like letting the kids in the cookie jar.”
Feeling the pressure for not being able to complete the stalled Baha Mar project, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie recently confirmed the signing of an agreement between the government and Exim to proceed with the completion of Baha Mar, to be flowed by the sale of the property to a world class casino and hotel operator. The Supreme Court of the Bahamas approved the agreement.
So, while the vision for the resort on the outskirts of Nassau may have been Bahamian-inspired, the reality is that the central government in Beijing ultimately controls the construction giant and the development bank that will determine the fate of Baha Mar.
Work on Baha Mar is slated to commence again sometime this month.