Tensions rise as auction Caravanserai looms

POSTED: 02/11/14 9:56 AM

SZV empties rooms of furniture

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Tensions are rising ahead of tomorrow’s auction of the Caravanserai property in Beacon Hill. Yesterday one of the property’s creditors, social insurance office BZV, emptied a couple of unoccupied rooms of all of its furniture. Rumors that Caravanserai owner Haresh Manek in a reaction to the BZV-action had sent all his staff home proved to be incorrect.

Yesterday afternoon it was business as usual at the resort, with guests lounging at the swimming pool and the reception desk properly staffed. Manek was not at available at the resort for a comment. Representatives of Scotiabank were at the premises to negotiate a solution, though it is unclear whom they were negotiating with, given the fact that Manek was not at hand.

Manek’s company Kildare Properties attempted to prevent tomorrow’s auction via a court procedure, but the court ruled against Kildare.

Tomorrow, Caravanserai will be auctioned off for an estimated $20 million at the Passanggrahan Hotel in Philipsburg. Scotiabank has the rights to the mortgage Kildare is unable to repay. In 2011, the bank financed a $26 million expansion of the resort, but when the resort encountered financial difficulties, work on the expansion came to a full stop. Contractor Liccom reportedly has a $1.6 million claim.

This newspaper reported for the first time about the financial problems at Caravanserai in August of last year. Kildare Properties appeared unable to satisfy a $16 million debt to the bank. Initial plans to auction the resort were postponed to create time for finding possible buyers. When all this failed, two companies – International Financial Planning Services (IFPS) and NHKK – went to court in an attempt to prevent an auction.

IFPS, a company owned by Atlantis Casino owner Francesco Corallo – claimed the rights to part of the property that Kildare had sold to it for $1.5 million. But the court ruled that Kildare had no right to sell, because it did not have permission from the government to split the long lease on the land. The court therefore declared the transactions between Kildare and IFPS and NHKK null and void and it allowed the bank to go ahead with the auction.

While the bank was talking to prospective buyers, SZV put a lien on the resort’s furniture because Kildare had failed to pay insurance premiums to the tune of 310,000 guilders. A subsequent auction of the furniture was cancelled at the last minute after SZV reached a settlement and agreed to await the results of an auction of the complete resort.

That SZV has now taken furniture out of several unoccupied rooms at the resort is most likely done to give the insurer the opportunity to photograph the goods for a presentation at tomorrow’s auction.

Whether the resort will really go under the hammer – in the sense that it will find a new owner – remains to be seen. “Don’t hold your breath,” was the sentiment among staffers at the resort yesterday afternoon.

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