Tullow Oil chief sues developers as work on Caribbean resort is halted
Published 02/02/2012 | 05:00
TULLOW Oil chief Aidan Heavey is suing the developers of a luxury hotel and villa complex in the Caribbean after construction stalled following the credit crunch.
Mr Heavey (58), from Castlerea, Co Roscommon, was among several high-profile figures who invested millions of euro in properties at the planned Four Seasons resort at Clearwater Bay in Barbados -- a development that aimed to rival the Sandy Lane resort owned by Irish businessmen Dermot Desmond and John Magnier.
Many of the world's rich and powerful splashed out on deposits for the homes -- some of which cost up to €30m -- at the sprawling 32-acre Paradise Beach site.
Early investors in the project who paid deposits of up to 40pc included Formula 1 boss Eddie Jordan, composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, and 'X-Factor' mogul Simon Cowell -- who reportedly snapped up a double site at a cost of €26m.
The 36 villas in the original plan ranged from 10,000 to 20,000sq ft each and included private pools, indoor ponds stocked with small sharks, and floor-to-ceiling windows.
The Irish Independent has learned that Mr Heavey and Universal Music's Lucian Grange have both filed legal actions at the Supreme Court of Barbados; Mr Heavey and Mr Grange are demanding to recover deposits they put down for luxury homes at the planned resort.
The site now resembles "a half-built ghost estate", according to some Irish tourists who recently visited the area.
Mr Heavey was among the super-rich investors in the complex, which was spearheaded by British born developer Mike Pemberton and property guru Robin Paterson.
But many of the investors are now seeking the return of their deposits after the "Platinum Coast" project stalled, requiring a US$60m (€45.6m) loan guarantee from the government of the tiny Caribbean nation.
Legislation was required to guarantee the liabilities of Clearwater Bay Ltd, a company controlled by the government, to facilitate the resumption of the Four Seasons Development project.
The Guarantee of Loan Act allowed the repayment of some US$34m (€25.9m) to the Bank of Scotland, which pulled out of the deal in 2009.
The Supreme Court of Barbados confirmed to the Irish Independent that it has received a series of lawsuits over the stalled project, which has angered many local Barbadians who fear taxpayers may have to pay for any bailout if it fails.
Mr Heavey would not comment on his investment when contacted by this newspaper.
Construction of the project stalled in 2010 as finance dried up and sales of its private villas slowed.
Late last year, Chris Sinkler, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs in Barbados, said the government would not turn its back on the project.
He said: "When that project came to a crashing halt, it was not due to any fault of this government but because of the international financial crisis and it was patently obvious that without government's intervention a restart of that $400m project would be impossible, leaving it to become a massive blotch on the socio-economic and environmental landscape of Barbados."