Speaking on the Colin Sampson Show, Fritsch said in light of the recent judgment by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeals, the government’s best option is to return the property to its rightful owners.
Peter Fritsch, formerly a veteran Wall Street Journal bureau chief, is renowned for, among other things, highlighting the curiosities of Allen Stanford’s growing and now collapsed financial empire. Fritsch also exposed and has written extensively on the expropriation of the US-owned Half Moon Bay private property.
Now a partner in a private research company, Fusion GPS, Fritsch investigates issues of money laundering and international crime. Fusion GPS conducts private investigations for clients, then seeks, where appropriate, to make its findings part of the public discussion.
Fritsch said in light of the OECS Appeals Court ruling on Monday, the government would be best advised to bring an early end to the matter by returning the disputed property to its rightful owners. Government should do this, he said, before the already high cost of compensation escalates much further than it already has.
The Appeals Court ruled that HMB Holdings should be compensated to the tune of US.5M. This sum is almost double the quantum arrived at in 2007 by a government-appointed valuation board. With interest at 10.25 percent per annum accruing since 2007, the government now owes HMB Holdings US.7M – USM more than HMB Holdings had originally sought as compensation.
Attorney General Justin Simon has served notice of the government’s intention to pursue the matter to the Privy Council.
Fritsch noted that the government has already indicated its inability to pay for the property. In the meantime, the compensation owed to HMB Holdings is increasing by US8,000 monthly, or US.66M per annum.
Another day in court is approaching for the Antigua & Barbuda government and HMB Holdings. In January 2012, the High Court will deliberate on HMB Holdings’ constitutional motion regarding their right to receive adequate and prompt compensation for the seized property. Fritsch confidently expects the court to rule in favor of HMB Holdings. He also noted that hearing of this matter has been unreasonably delayed by the government’s failure to meet several previous dates set down for this matter.
All of this, said Fritsch, does no good for the international image of Antigua & Barbuda. The ongoing struggle over disposition of the former Allen Stanford financial empire also brought the country’s name into international disrepute.
On a happier note, Fritsch believes that the chances of finding an investor willing to shoulder the redevelopment of the Half Moon Bay resort property are better than they may appear. He opined that a well-heeled investor could indeed recoup such an investment over a period of time. Fritsch wished financier Egbert Perry every success in bringing a once world-renowned resort back into the mainstream.