Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 9th 2016 Contents A4
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Saturday, July 9, 2016
Founder and chairman of Sandals Resorts Gordon
Butch Stewart has denied allegations made by
Antigua and Barbuda's Prime Minister Gaston
Browne that Sandals has been retaining the lion's
share of hotel room tax income, by what the Antiguan
government has called "an unlawful agreement."
The allegation was made last month by Browne
who took a decision to end a 2009 tax agreement
brokered through a previous administration, which
allowed Sandals Resorts International (SRI) to collect
100 per cent of Antigua and Barbuda Sales Tax from
its customers and keeps 65 per cent of the yields.
The remaining 35 per cent is handed to the Antiguan
However, the Antigua and Barbuda government
has been trying to change this arrangement.
SRI has since threatened to pursue legal action
against Browne, who in turn said his administration
will not be "intimidated and bullied" in its ongoing
public battle with SRI over the payment of taxes to
Stewart, in response to an e-mail sent to the T&T
Guardian this week said of Browne s claims: "Absolutely
nothing could be further from the truth. These accu-
sations have been made without one shred of evidence.
Prime Minister Browne has committed a huge libel."
Since 1992, Stewart said, SRI had been operating
in Antigua and Barbuda, and his hotel had consistently
been audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Grant
Thornton International, as well as the government s
Antigua & Barbuda PM: Sandals in 'unlawful' agreement
"Never has there been cause for any such accu-
sations," the hotel tycoon insisted.
In 2015, Stewart said, SRI paid to the Antigua and
Barbuda government taxes in excess of US$5.2 million
and in the financial year 2016, they paid over US$5.8
million in taxes.
"We estimate that our direct contribution to the
economy of Antigua and Barbuda exceeds US$27.5
million per annum and we earn more foreign currency
than any other resort chain on the Island," Stewart
Stewart said the 2009 agreement dated back to
2000, which was signed by the then government,
led by Sir Lester Bird.
"The basis for the concession agreement had to
do with our commitment to build at least another
100 rooms. In fact, we went much further by con-
structing 180 suites at a cost of over US$100 mil-
Financing for this project, Stewart said, was provided
by T&T s First Citizens Bank.
"We continue to enjoy a tremendous relationship
with them (FCB) as they also financed our hotel in
Grenada," Stewart disclosed.
Stewart said SRI had been proud to operate its
flagship resort in Antigua and Barbuda.
"We also take pride in the fact that our 750 employ-
ees are the highest paid in Antigua and Barbuda
which makes us the largest private employer on the
A suspended licensing officer who has been
waiting over 16 years to be tried on corruption
charges wants a judge to discontinue legal pro-
ceedings against him.
Ricky Samlal, of Palmiste, filed an application
in the High Court on May 25 for an order staying
the indictment against him.
Samlal, through his lawyers Prakash Ramadhar
and Michael Rooplal, is contending that it would
be an abuse of process if the court allows the
matters to go to trial.
The application is expected to be heard before
Justice Hayden St Clair-Douglas in the San Fer-
nando High Court on July 20.
Samlal is further contending that due to the
delay in the prosecution of the matters he has
been severely prejudiced.
Samlal, in the court documents, said two of
the prosecution s key witnesses, the virtual com-
plainant, Terance Bharat and Kenneth Murray
have since died.
Samlal said he has also lost contact with one
of his main witnesses, Tony Supersad, a motor
vehicle inspector, who was important to his
defence in this matter.
As a consequence, Samlal is contending it
would be impossible for him to have a fair trial.
Samlal was jointly charged with Shaffeth
Mohammed with two counts of corruption and
two counts of misbehavior in public offences.
The charges arose of an alleged incident on
March 21, 2000 at the San Fernando Licensing
Department. It is alleged Samlal corruptly solicit-
ed $500 from Arnold Bharat and Terence Bharat.
Samlal and Mohammed were committed to
stand trial in the High Court on August 21,
2006 and the indictment was filed on March
Gordon Butch Stewart
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