Joe Grant Cay Land Sells For $4m
Joe Grant Cay is home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas
A LARGE plot of Crown land on the remote island of Joe Grant Cay was sold for $4.04m in October in a transaction that was never made public, the Weekly News can reveal.
This week Sotheby’s, the real estate company dealing with the sale, told the newspaper that a commercial developer purchased the 200 acre plot – once valued at $50 million – months ago.
TCI mortgage providers Temple Financial Group pushed through the sale of the land in order to recoup millions of dollars in outstanding Government debts.
The debt was originally created five years ago when the company awarded a $2.4 million mortgage to a prominent developer to purchase the sizable plot on the cay.
But he was later accused of corruption and following a lengthy civil recovery case the Government took back possession of the land – along with responsibility for the mortgage and the growing interest.
Temple gave the Government an opportunity to sell the land themselves to repay the debt and it was advertised on the Sotheby’s website for sale at $6.9 million.
But after a year and a half without a bite the company obtained ‘power of sale’ and finally offloaded the land for $2.8 million below its advertised price.
Power of sale gives the creditor the authority, upon default in the payment of a debt, to advertise and sell the property at public auction, without resorting to a court for authorisation.
Following a request for information, Sotheby’s broker Joe Zahm sent the Weekly News an email that explained: “Lot 25 ONLY sold for $4,040,000 in October. The rest of the island remains in TCIG control.”
The cash will pay off the Government’s debt with Temple Financial Group and any remaining will be put into the Government’s coffers.
However it is currently uncertain how much interest the mortgage accrued and if there is likely to be any money left over from the payment.
Minister of Finance Washington Misick told the Weekly News on Thursday (December 12) that he had not been briefed on the sale.
He explained that just months ago Temple Mortgage would have obtained “power of sale”.
But Misick added that he was unaware of any further details including whether the $4.04 million was more or less than the amount owed to Temple.
Meanwhile when asked why the transaction was not made public Premier Rufus Ewing on Thursday told the newspaper that the sale had “nothing to do with” the Government.
“A great portion of Joe Grant Cay is still owned by Government but the part sold is not a part of the Crown land there,” he said.
The development of remote Joe Grant Cay, located just east of Middle Caicos, was announced in mid-2008, shortly before the worldwide recession tightened its grip on the Islands.
Home to 18th century ruins, a protected harbour and some of the country’s finest vistas, the 710-acre cay was tipped to provide abundant job opportunities for local residents.
However Turkish-born developer Cem Kinay, who also headed the massive development at Dellis Cay, attracted a wealth of scrutiny during the 2008 Commission of Inquiry.
It was claimed that he purchased Joe Grant Cay for $7.7 million after it was valued at $178 million in June 2008.
This followed the payment of a $500,000 political donation to the PNP just a year earlier.
On June 24, 2010, the development agreement between the Kinay’s Star Platinum firms and the Government was terminated.
And that July civil recovery lawyers fought to have land on the tiny cay returned to the Crown along with damages and costs.
After initially filing a full defence, the Star Platinum companies then defaulted on court orders.
They were asked to provide further and better particulars of their defence, but did not do so in time, and the defence was struck out.
As a result, the Government opted for trial by evidence or admissions which took place in June 2011 at Providenciales Supreme Court.
Following lengthy civil recovery proceedings the recently resigned Attorney General Huw Shepheard released his judgement in TCI’s first major civil recovery case.
He said that there was “no satisfactory explanation” for a $500,000 political donation made by Dr Kinay to former Premier Michael Misick on January 9, 2007.
The judge added that there was “a very strong probability that the money was paid as a bribe in order to ensure that the defendant companies obtained the benefit of the proposed development”.
However, because the defendant did not show up to court to offer his evidence, Shepheard stressed that “nobody should be declared corrupt”.
Dr Kinay – bestowed with Belonger status by Misick’s former Government – has always denied allegations of corruption.
He also previously vowed to recoup all losses incurred by his firms as a result of the civil recovery team’s work.
The court ordered the return of the whole of Joe Grant Cay previously bought for $7.7 million to the TCI Government.
However one 200 acre parcel of land, which Kinay bought for just $3.2 million, was subject to a charge in favour of Temple Financial Group.
Star Platinum companies had borrowed $2.4 million from the company’s operating division Temple Mortgage and granted it a charge over the land as security.
TCIG “reluctantly concluded” that it had no choice but to sell the parcel of land in order to pay off what was owed.
In May 2012 Sothebys, instructed to act for the Government, placed parcel 30101/25 on the market for sale.
Earlier this year Temple forced through the sale of the land in order to repay the Government’s outstanding debts.
David Knight, chief executive officer of Temple Financial Group, was unavailable for comment .
Published in TCI Weekly News