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Jamaica Mortgage Bank sues Firm YP Seaton for $1b

Published:Wednesday | January 28, 2015 | 1:00 AM

Jamaica Mortgage Bank (JMB) has sued two companies controlled by York Seaton to recover a principal loan and interest totalling more than $1 billion.

The mortgage bank had initially included Seaton in the lawsuit, because of his personal guarantee for the debt, but has since dropped the $180 million claim against the contractor.

On Tuesday, JMB general manager Courtney Wynter said the suit against YP Seaton & Associates Company Limited and its sister company Ebony View Limited would be pursued to its conclusion.

The debt in question relates to a $300 million loan issued in November 2006 and priced at 18 per cent per annum for a real estate development known as Ebony View. Seaton's companies were to have repaid the loans within two years of the disbursements, which were done in tranches between November 2006 and February 2008.

However, according to court fillings, JMB was repaid only 792,945, which the mortgage bank said was remitted in May 2014 after the loan period had expired.

JMB has claimed damages of $1.04 billion, inclusive of annual interest of 16 per cent, to September 30, 2014. Other interest charges and costs pushed the claim to just over $1.048 billion. The suit was filed in the commercial division of the Jamaican Supreme Court in October 2014.

YP Seaton and Ebony View have filed a defence of the lawsuit, but so far, the documentation has not been located at the Supreme Court, and Seaton's lawyer Annie Gracie at Rattray Patterson Rattray declined to provide a copy. She said the defence was filed on December 29.

York Seaton was dropped from the lawsuit on January 21, 2015, according to a court filing by JMB's lawyer, Stuart Stimpson of the law firm Hart Muirhead Fatta. That filing also, which was supplied by Gracie, names the Ministry of Housing, Housing Agency of Jamaica and the Attorney General of Jamaica as ancillary defendants to the lawsuit, and YP Seaton and Ebony View as ancillary claimants.

None of the parties involved in the case, including Wynter and Seaton, would comment on the particulars of the project and what went wrong, nor why Seaton was dropped from the lawsuit, saying the issue was in court. However, previous references to the property in media reports indicate that the development was based in Frazer's Content, Spanish Town, and that work stopped on the project in 2007.

Housing Agency of Jamaica said Tuesday that it would provide an update on the project today, Wednesday.

The case had its most recent hearing on January 22 before Justice D. Batts.

avia.collinder@gleanerjm.com