Half MoonBay Resort - Antigua Antigua & Barbuda, a former British colony and current member of the Commonwealth, has shockingly expropriated and nationalised the private property of United States citizens. After decades of corruption, malgovernance and links to international crime, hopes were raised in 2004 when the United Progressive Party, led by Baldwin Spencer with qualities absent in government in Antigua, honesty & integrity, swept to power. The new “Government in Sunshine,” immediately set about fulfilling its promise to remove the dark shadow of forced acquisition placed over Half moon Bay Resort by its predecessors. Sadly, hopes were soon dashed by the catastrophic appointments to key official posts of certain individuals, mired in the dubious practices of the previous regime.
Proclaiming eminent domain, the Government of Antigua alleged expropriation was for a public purpose.
A new and dangerous definition of public purpose was provided when, in his 2003 Budget presentation to Parliament, the then Prime Minister Lester Bird proposed to balance the nation's deficit by the sale proceeds of the HalfMoonBay property.
When the new administration came to office in 2004, it promised to relinquish its hold over the property and to reverse the improper Parliamentary declarations that allowed the Government to invoke the power of the Land Acquisition Act.
While waiting for a formal hearing of the matter by Privy Council, Antigua & Barbuda's Attorney General, Justin Simon QC, authorised the Land Registrar to complete the transfer of the property to the Crown. An entry dated 8 March 2005 now clearly shows the Government of Antigua & Barbuda and not the Crown, as the new owner of the property.
This was followed in July 2005 by an ill-tempered debate in Parliament, which ratified a Cabinet decision to "revest” the property, subject to conditions.
In November of 2006, Attorney General, Justin Simon QC, a strong proponent of a Caribbean Court of Justice, further detailed his terms for settlement. These now included the Government retaining a lien on the property, specifically restraining its sale and several performance milestones, critical to the retention of property ownership. Disturbingly, the Attorney General required the lien to be the subject of a side letter issued by the Government and signed by the owners.
In June 2007, the Privy Council acknowledged that Half Moon Bay was a valuable property and ruled that the matter should now be settled by the payment of prompt and effective compensation. Additional background for Observers 1.The Government has never offered to purchase the property, the Half Moon Bay Resort, which includes a beach front hotel surrounded by 108 acres of amenities, golf course, estate and development lands. The property has been acknowledged by the Travel Channel in 1999 as being set on the best beach in the world.
2.Bird added that the Government was actively pursuing potential buyers, naming R. Allen Stanford of Stanford Development and Stanford Investments; Saul Kerzner of Sun City, South Africa and Atlantis, ParadiseIsland; and William B. Johnson, founder of the Ritz Carlton Hotels. Bird later added another buyer to the list, identifying him as British entrepreneur Peter de Savary. 3.Further conditions imposed by the Government included developing the property within a timeline set by the Government, failing which the "revestment" would become null and void; a blanket indemnity from the 6. rightful owners of the property for any and all Ministers' actions, past, current, known and yet to be discovered, which also includes third-party indemnification; and the owners' abandonment of all legal action and claims against the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. All of which would cause the owners to absorb not only the loss of income plus the cost of maintenance, but also the huge cost of multiple legal actions undertaken to protect their property and interests. 4.Despite having one of the largest per capita debts of any world nation, despite the breach of several international trade and bi-lateral investment treaties, despite being a Member of MIGA and despite his administration's expropriation of foreign investors' property, Antigua & Barbuda's Finance Minister, Dr. Errol Cort, appeared at a conference in London in November 2006, hosted by PM Tony Blair. There he appealed for Foreign Direct Investment. 5.The U.S. State Department has reminded the Government of Antigua & Barbuda that it is in both countries’ interests to get the matter resolved and that there are political and economic consequences to continuing the process of expropriation of American-owned property. A proposal put forward by the late former US Secretary of State, William D Rogers of Arnold & Porter LLC and Vice-Chairman of Kissinger & Associates has been submitted for a balanced and mutually satisfactory settlement through the American Ambassador, to no avail. 6.Antigua was the subject of Treasury Advisories by both the US and British Governments. Only the second time an entire nation has been listed. 7.Officials of the Government of Antigua & Barbuda are entitled to substantial personal “finders’ fees for inward investment. 8.The Government of Antigua & Barbuda declined mediation offers from Sir Louis Blom-Cooper and Geoffrey Robertson QC. 9.The Government of Antigua & Barbuda makes no mention of either its expropriation attempts or the Appeal to the Privy Council in its Prospectuses aimed at local and international investors. Its website further misleads potential investors by claiming it has never expropriated private property. 10.Antigua & Barbuda is signatory to bi-lateral investment treaties with Germany and the United Kingdom. 11.By not paying prompt and effective compensation, Antigua is in breach of international law, US Code and bi-lateral investment treaties. 12.Nations and entities currently conducting or considering trade and investment with Antigua & Barbuda would be advised to review their own country's commercial and aid arrangements to ensure these have not been breached or endangered.