Bahamas AG: Baha Mar Case Belongs in Bahamas

The attorney general of the Bahamas, Allyson Maynard-Gibson (l.), says the resolution of Baha Mar’s troubles should be reached in the Bahamas instead of a U.S. bankruptcy court.

The attorney general of the Bahamas is frustrated that the fate of the .5 billion Baha Mar resort project is in the hands of a U.S. bankruptcy court.

Speaking with the Washington Post, Allyson Maynard-Gibson said the success or failure of Baha Mar, which filed for U.S. Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection two weeks ago in a Delaware court, will “profoundly” affect the Bahamian economy, and the troubled project’s financial crisis should be addressed in the Bahamas.

“The government feels very strongly that resolution of the disputes that have delayed the project should occur in the Bahamas,” Maynard-Gibson told the Post.

The nation’s Supreme Court delayed a hearing on Baha Mar Ltd.’s application for Bahamian courts to recognize the Chapter 11 restructuring plan ultimately approved by order of the U.S. court. The delay was requested by the Bahamian government and by the Chinese Export-Import Bank, which provided $2.4 billion in loans for the project.

Baha Mar executives say the delay of the Bahamas’ recognition of the U.S. bankruptcy could cause it to have to make substantial staff reductions.

Baha Mar, the largest construction project in the Caribbean, was originally slated to open last December. The opening was delayed until March, and then indefinitely as the company and its contractor became embroiled in a dispute over cost and the progress of the project.

Sarkis Izmirlian, the resort’s CEO, blamed the Chinese construction company, state-owned China Construction America, for the delays, while blasting the Bahamian government for not supporting the massive project by instituting training of Bahamian citizens to work at the Cable Beach resort.