Tue | Dec 5, 2023

Mystic Mountain trustee fighting efforts to oust her

Published:Wednesday | September 20, 2023 | 12:36 AMBarbara Gayle/Gleaner Writer
Tourist about to be elevated on one of the rides at Mystic Mountain in Ocho Rios, St Ann.

A meeting to remove Debbie Ann Gordon as the trustee for Mystic Mountain Limited, a major tourist attraction in Ocho Rios, St Ann had to be abandoned half way through on Monday after the Supreme Court granted an injunction stopping it from taking...

A meeting to remove Debbie Ann Gordon as the trustee for Mystic Mountain Limited, a major tourist attraction in Ocho Rios, St Ann had to be abandoned half way through on Monday after the Supreme Court granted an injunction stopping it from taking place.

Approval for the sale of Mystic Mountain, which was in bankruptcy, was granted last month by Supreme Court Judge David Batts.

A notice was sent to the creditors on September 14 that a meeting would be held on Monday and one of the items on the agenda was Gordon’s removal.

Attorney-at-law Lemar Neale, of the firm NEA/LEX and who is representing Gordon, applied for an injunction against defendants Sygnus Credit Investments Jamaica Limited, Mystic Dining Limited and German company Josef Wiegand GMBH & CO KG to stop the meeting. An affidavit of urgency was sworn by Gordon on September 17.

Supreme Court Judge Stephanie Jackson-Haisley, after hearing submissions on Monday from Neale, granted the injunction barring the defendants, who are majority inspectors of the bankruptcy estate of Mystic Mountain, their servants or agents from acting on the notice of meeting of creditors dated September 14, 2023. An inter-partes hearing is set for October 27 in Chambers at the Supreme Court.

Gordon outlined in her affidavit that she had been faithfully carrying out her duties and the defendants had made several attempts to remove her from office. She said the attempts to oust her started in March 2023 when the defendants caused a creditors’ meeting to be convened without any notice to her, just after she held a meeting with the committee of inspectors, including the defendants.

She referred to a judgment on May 8 in which Batts refused a declaration sought by the defendants that she cease being trustee.

After the approval of sale of the assets of Mystic Mountain, she said she convened a meeting on August 23 with the committee of inspectors, including the defendants, to update them on the status of the administration, the fact of the sale and to discuss the way forward. She informed the defendants that she would be going on leave and would return to office on September 15. She said the defendants, in purported exercise of their powers as majority of inspectors, wrote to her on August 31 while they knew she was out of office, requesting that she convene a meeting of creditors on September 8. On being alerted to the letter by her office, she wrote to them on September 5, stating that she would convene a meeting within 14 days of her return to work. Gordon pointed out that from the spirit and substance of her letter, it was clear that there was no refusal on her part to hold a meeting.

Gordon stated that the defendants sent a letter dated September 8, directing her to convene a virtual creditors’ meeting by September 13. She said “given the posture of the defendants which evinces an intention to act unlawfully, in usurping my role as Trustee, I retained the services of an attorney-at-law to respond to them”.

She contended in court documents that the conduct of the defendants was injurious to the bankruptcy estate since the appointment of a fourth trustee at this post-sale stage will result in costs to the estate “as any new trustee at this late stage would need to be fully informed about the administration of the estate from inception”.

In applying for the injunction, Gordon described the matter as extremely urgent as she feared that, unless restrained, the defendants will proceed to convene an invalid meeting for the sole purpose of exacting a resolution from the creditors to have her removed as trustee.

The company went bankrupt during the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Sky-High Holdings is the agent for the secured creditor JCSD Trustee Services Limited which is owed $1.1 billion.

Mystic Mountain in September 2018 entered into a bond agreement for the value of $1.1 billion for the expansion of Mystic Mountain. The financial troubles for Mystic Mountain worsened in 2020 when the attraction was forced to close because of the pandemic.

Karibukai owns 100 per cent of Mystic Mountain Limited, which is in turn majority owned by Rainforest Adventure Holdings Limited.

Mystic Mountain was opened in 2008.

Northjam Island Tours was approved by the Supreme Court last month as the purchaser of Mystic Mountain.