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[Providenciales] CJ refuses to review land deal for new FBO

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[Providenciales] CJ refuses to review land deal for new FBO

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Apr 07, 2015

http://tcweeklynews.com/cj-refuses-to-r ... 39-127.htm

[Providenciales] CJ refuses to review land deal for new FBO
Mon, Apr 06, 2015

LYNDON Gardiner, chairman of InterCaribbean Airways Ltd, has finally broken his silence on a matter he calls ‘a case worse than land flipping’ by the Government.

On Wednesday (April 1), Gardiner spoke with the media following Chief Justice (CJ) Margaret Ramsay-Hale’s decision not to allow a judicial review into the legality of Crown land acquired by M Aviation from the TCI Airport Authority (TCIAA), for a fixed based operation (FBO).

The review was requested by Gardiner’s company last November and came up for a hearing in January this year. The decision was finally handed down Wednesday morning (April 1).

In her decision, the judge ruled that the application was made out of time and that the reasons put forward were insufficient for the company to be granted further time to apply for the review.

The disputed land was initially granted to two Belongers - Shaun Malcolm and Joshua Harvey – by former Governor Gordon Wetherell in May 2011.

The two men had at the time of the grant, entered into an agreement with the principals behind M Aviation – Mortimer Sackler and Michel Neutelings, both of Amanyara Resort - for the operation of an FBO at Providenciales International Airport.

In January, this publication had learned from reliable sources that the Integrity Commission is looking into the matter.

In his application for a review, Gardiner had alleged that the TCIAA and or the Government in or about 2011 identified a volume of land on the south side of the airport for compulsory acquisition for the purpose of public use.

The land is said to have been acquired compulsorily on the basis that it was urgently needed for the airport extension.

However, the true intent for the compulsory acquisition, as has now been established, was for a commercial venture, and neither for public use nor as an urgent part of the airport expansion, Gardiner stated in court documents.

He told the press this week that the action of the Government in the matter is clearly a case of land flipping.

"I think it’s worse than flipping land, because why should our Government go out and use our money to purchase land so that foreign developers could benefit.

"My view is if those foreign developers wanted that land, they had an opportunity to buy. The Government should not be in the business of brokering land sales and certainly if they are in the business of brokering land sales, then they shouldn’t be in the business of lying to the public about buying the land for A reason and then turning around and using it for B reason,” he stated.

Expressing his disappointment with the judge’s decision, Gardiner said that he is still exploring other options, noting that the possibility of appealing the CJ’s decision is still on the table, as are other options.

He said the case is just one chapter in the on-going saga of how the Government and the TCIAA are abusing the public’s trust and acting contrary to the best interests of Belongers and all residents of the Islands.

"The questions are still valid and will not go away, even if it is uncomfortable to ask them.

"We think the public has a right to know how and why land that belonged to private citizens was forcibly acquired for public use with public funds but ultimately fell into the hands of foreign private investors,” he added.

He stated that before taking the matter to the court, he had appealed to the Government and the Governor’s office for redress, but no satisfaction was forthcoming from either party.

Need for a parallel taxiway

Gardiner further stated that the land should be used, as it was initially acquired, for the purpose of a parallel taxiway to relieve severe air traffic congestion that has plagued the country for a long time.

This congestion, coupled with the lack of radar, is both dangerous and an impediment to the promised growth that the airport renovation was supposed to allow, he added.

He noted that while he clearly has a commercial interest in the outcome of the matter, the negativity that the development of the new FBO is creating on the ability to grow the aviation sector, expand the airport to allow more traffic into the Islands and to operate at international safety standards need to be put above private interests.

"My action is not to annihilate the competition, I feel that there should be competition, I feel that there should be fair competition.

"There are other areas of the airport where this competition can be and it does not have to be at the only logical area that is destined for a parallel taxiway,” Gardiner stated.

He said that a parallel taxiway trumps all commercial interests for private individuals.

"Where the terminal is going further west, there is certainly adequate space for any FBO development and it does not have to be on the south side and we shot ourselves in the foot by not having the area for putting the parallel taxiway,” he added.

Meanwhile, the application for the judicial review came years after the land deal was brokered, and according to Gardiner, this was due to the inability to obtain information on the transaction.

As was published in the Weekly News in January, in court documents Gardiner had stated that the facts regarding the acquisition of the land was exposed on a local online media site and was only known to him sometime in late December early January since the initial filing of the application on November 26.

On Friday, he told the press that it has been very difficult to get information, and that it took him six months to get a copy of the lease.

"I had someone going to the office in Grand Turk literally every day to get the information.

Even if I look at the court on an ex parte application, this is something that should have taken a relatively small amount of time, but indeed it took several months.”

He added that what added to the delay was that the development of the FBO was sporadic at times and that he had information that there was some bickering amongst the partners.

"Once I was sure things were not as they appeared to have been and we had concrete evidence to support our position that is when we thought it best to go to the court.

"My company does not believe in bringing frivolous cases, so not until it was ascertained to us of the real circumstances that we took action.”

Responding to a query, Gardiner added that while it may have been a missed opportunity, he would not have taken a case to the court without evidence to support his position.

Going forward, he said that: "If and when additional information comes to my knowledge I will press on with that information as I go forward.”

The evidence Gardiner speaks of, and which he presented to the court for the review, was that a commercial lease registered on January 3, 2012 and varied in March 2013, for public lands was procedurally improper and beyond the powers of the TCIAA under the Airport Authority Ordinance 2009, in that it was not granted on commercial terms and that it grants a substantial commercial discount to a private company which is owned and controlled outside of the TCI.

In court documents, Gardiner further alleged that in the transaction, there is an absence of TCIAA board approval; an absence of publication in the Gazette; non-compliance with section six of the TCIAA Ordinance 2009; an absence of commercial terms; failure to take into account relevant consideration or absence of proper inquiry; an absence of Belonger participation; improper purpose; and procedural unfairness.

He stated that the decisions by TCIAA to dispose of some or all of the Crown lands in quick fashion to a third party for the benefit of one or more of the listed interested parties, without notice to the applicant or the opportunity to be heard is procedurally improper and fails to comply with the principles of natural justice.

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Re: [Providenciales] CJ refuses to review land deal for new

Unread post by bimjim » Tue Apr 07, 2015

Strange that a man making so much noise about improper behaviour should have been indicted fifteen years ago for embezzling several hundred thousand dollars from the government, and now owes the same government a huge amount of money in both corporate taxes and amounts collected on their behalf in fees and charges.

Also strange that he would be making so little noise about anything else but is focusing on the his new competitor at the airport. I have to assume that monopoly in a small island like Provo gathers huge profits.

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