Mark Titus, Gleaner Writer
American developer Robert Trotta has dismissed claims that investors stand to lose significant amounts of money in The Palmyra development in Montego Bay, St James.
"It is a smear campaign to discredit me, completely without basis," Trotta said in a release last week.
He was responding to a Sunday Gleaner report about questions being raised regarding the use of some US$2.4 million collected from 137 investors.
"Over the last year, we have been subjected to a substantial amount of inaccurate and false allegations made by several third parties, who have sought to attack me personally and continue to diminish the value of The Palmyra," said Trotta.
Several individuals who invested money in the Palmyra project have claimed that they are having difficulty recovering their investment despite the failure of the developers to deliver the premises under the agreement.
"I had actually started legal action to recover my money before it (The Palmyra) went into receivership," well-known businessman and hotelier Godfrey Dyer told The Sunday Gleaner recently.
Dyer, who the records show made a down payment of US$15,345 to the developers for a condominium, said he has been trying to recover his payments because the developer was two and a half years late in delivery.
The Real Estate Board and Strata Commission has also gone to court "seeking to protect purchaser's deposits under prepayment contracts either by way of a refund, or if the scheme is going ahead, to ensure that contracts are completed".
"We had a problem getting information from the developer, that is why we are in court now," Sandra Watson, chief executive officer at the Real Estate Board, told The Sunday Gleaner.
According to an affidavit filed by the Real Estate Board and Strata Commission, there is no evidence of the legally required trust fund, which should have been established to deposit the more than US$2.4 million collected by the developers from purchasers.
Trotta made no mention of the trust fund in his rebuttal but said the accounts of The Palmyra, while under his control, were audited by two internationally acclaimed audit firms.
He argued that the two banks which placed the development into receivership Royal Bank Jamaica (RBC) and National Commercial Bank (NCB) have been in complete control of the company's accounts since 2009.
The gated facility is a 288-room hotel/condominium complex encompassing three towers, two of which were completed sitting on 16 acres of pristine beachfront land along the Rose Hall corridor.
The developers of the project fell into arrears on US$110 million of principal loans - US$22 million of which was financed by RBC while the remaining US$88 million is held by NCB.
But Trotta maintains that all the information on purchasers and incomplete transactions were in the hand of the receiver, and charged that with the cooperation of both banks; the project would now be completed.
"From the day the receiver was appointed, I have made it abundantly clear to all parties involved that I will take any measures necessary to protect my US$100 million investment, the investment of each and every owner and fulfil my commitment to complete the project."
According to the developer, several attempts to resolve the outstanding issues with the lenders have been unsuccessful.
He suggested that a lawsuit is inevitable if the issues with the lending institutions are not resolved in the near future.