Books about Anguilla


Saturday, 11 February 2012


I want to take this opportunity to register my full support for the Government of Anguilla during this period of discussions on Cap Juluca. Although things seem to be extremely quiet there are loud whispers abroad regarding the challenges facing the property. Cap Juluca has been for a long time not only the “flagship” but the “breadbasket” of our tourist industry as well. And let me make it clear that this statement is not intended to undermine the significant contribution of other properties but merely to highlight the value of Cap Juluca to our economy both in terms of employment, business opportunities, and government revenues. The survival of Cap Juluca as a vibrant and successful operation is critical to the livelihood of several hundred Anguillian families and the many businesses they patronize in the wider community. 

I also must commend the Chief Minister for the considerable restraint he has exercised over the past weeks in dealing with this matter in a most discrete manner. This is quite unlike his approach of the past when he seemed to have resorted to belligerent language on the airwaves; the blame game; and exhorting the workers to make protest marches to the Governor’s Office. I hope that this is an indication that the Chief Minister and his colleagues now fully understand that these very technical issues cannot be negotiated in the “broad pa’”. And that they should not confuse the issues even further by irresponsibly circulating “tainted” information for political reasons. I would hope that the reality is “setting in” about the delicate nature of the Cap Juluca issue and the need for a non-partisan approach to dealing with it. 

In my article of November 11, 2011 entitled “Hiding Behind Someone’s Petticoat”, I made the following observation after questioning the Chief Minister and his Government’s response to matters at Cap Juluca. I wrote: “I believe that it would have been appropriate for the Chief Minister to call in all Elected Members of the House of Assembly and tell them that we are facing a serious national crisis and we need to work together to resolve it. This would have taken the politics out of the issue and allowed for national solidarity. Every single Member of the House will want Cap Juluca to survive this ordeal. They could then as a “united front” (no pun intended) formulate a “well-thought-out” strategy that could stand a better chance of success than “hiding behind someone’s petticoat.” 

The Chief Minister in responding to that “olive branch” which was extended to him in a United Front Press Statement on November 7, 2011 and later in my Article as quoted above said on the public airwaves: 

“There is no assistance they (AUF) can give me! They are only messing up things --- because they should really hide. There is no assistance they can give me! What assistance can they give me? I don’t want men to fight! And there is no technical assistance they can give me! I am more qualified than all of them put together!” 

Other even more disparaging remarks were made in that interview which could provoke a negative reaction from our party members. But Anguilla is bigger than all of us and I believe that after almost three months, the situation seems to have deteriorated even further and urgently demands a demonstration of national solidarity. I believe that even in the circumstances where the Chief Minister would continue to reject our assistance we will continue to give the Government tacit support --- by not making this matter a political issue. There is too much at stake to allow raw politics to dominate the debate. Therefore if it requires our (AUF) silence to facilitate a successful outcome to these deliberations --- then we will proceed in that manner. And as the AUF Party Leader, I will encourage the Parliamentary Opposition Leader, the Honourable Evans McNiel Rogers and his colleague the Elected Member for Island Harbour, the Honourable Othlyn Vanterpool to be supportive in the House of Assembly (if it is deemed requisite) of any objective Motion or Bill formulated to advance the positive resolution of matters at Cap Juluca. This is in keeping with our pledge on November 7, 2011, that “the Members of The Anguilla United Front stand ready to support the Government of Anguilla in any “well-thought out” approach, which is designed to ensure that the Cap Juluca Hotel remains open.” 

I do believe, however, that this silence by Government provides for a “teachable opportunity”. And so allow readers to learn something about the history of the Cap Juluca saga void of politics and without any form of analysis. Just the bare facts! I believe that this will enable readers to put the issue in perspective from a historical standpoint so that they can interpret for themselves how we arrived at this juncture. Those facts are as follows: 

1. The lands that now comprise Cap Juluca resort were made available when the British Government (after a number of studies on Tourism as a vehicle for development on Anguilla) agreed to purchase 39.5 acres at Maundays Bay to package with 139.5 acres already owned by GoA to do a tourism project. (Total lands 179 acres) 

2. In 1979 a lease was granted to a Mr. J. Frankel to develop the lands. It was not developed. 

3. In 1981, Don Friedland and his group purchased the lease from Mr. Frankel for US$900,000. He did not develop it either. 

4. In 1986, Mr. Charles Hickox and his group entered into a Stock Purchase Agreement with Mr. Friedland’s group to purchase the leasehold interest in Cap Juluca through an entity called the Leeward Isle Resorts LIR. 

5. The Leeward Isle Resorts (LIR) in 1986 acquires a lease from Government to lease 179 acres of Crown land situated on and around Maundays Bay and Cove Bay. 

6. The LIR lease required that a total of 500 rooms be built in ten phases by 2011. 210 rooms were to be built in the first phase. 

7. Of the 210 rooms supposed to be built by 1996 --- only 98 were built. 

8. A disagreement between the ownership of LIR beginning in 1989 hindered the development of the project and escalated into legal action in 1991 mainly between Mr. Friedland and Mr Hickox. 

9. In 1993 the disagreement came to a head after Mr. Hickox did not make the necessary payments to Mr Friedland’s group under the Stock Purchase Agreement. They ended up in Court in Anguilla and New York. 

10. In December 1993, the Hickox group filed for bankruptcy in the U.S.A. The Court appointed a mediator. 

11. In May 1996, the two parties came to a settlement agreement that required Mr. Hickox & Co. to pay US$1 million by February 1997 as part payment in the matter to Mr. Friedland & Co. 

12. By March 1997 when Mr. Hickox & Co. did not pay they were advised of having defaulted. The US Bankruptcy Court then issued an Order to beginning the process of auctioning Cap Juluca. 

13. In September 1999, Mr. Friedland & Co. purchased Cap Juluca in an auction for allegedly, US$500,000 and he became the sole owner. He then took over Cap Juluca. 

14. Mr. Hickox & Co. fought the issue but the US Court ruled in favour of Mr. Friedland & Co. 

15. Since 2001 both these parties have been fighting for ownership in Courts in Anguilla, the OECS, and the Privy Council. 

16. On November 2004, the Executive Council in an effort to end the ownership dispute authorized the formation of a Cap Juluca (CJ) Task Force to come up with solutions. 

17. On December 2004 to January 2005 the CJ Task Force informed Mr. Friedland and Mr. Hickox of their existence and the desire of Government for them to arrive at an amicable solution swiftly. 

18. The CJ Task Force with the AG’s Chambers recommended a dual strategy to GoA: a) advise the parties that GoA was prepared to pursue “forfeiture proceedings”; and, b) look for a suitable purchaser to take over the lease. 

19. The GoA entered negotiations with a number of investors in 2005 & 2006 from which nothing conclusive materialized. 

20. The GoA also sought independent legal advice on the options of forfeiture and compulsory acquisition from a number of regional and local Law firms. 

21. Government in a letter of August 2006 after its inability to get an amicable resolution from the Friedland & Hickox group began to invite eligible purchasers advising that their offers/proposals must meet certain requirements as follows: 
  • Maintain the Cap Juluca brand. 
  •  Limit expansion of the project to a lower density 
  • Make provision for a National Park at Cove Bay 
  • Extend the National Park into Cove Bay Lagoon with a development plan to preserve and enhance Anguilla’s maritime heritage and culture and environmental assets. 
  • Make provision for a significant equity stake by Anguillian belongers and Anguillian owned entities. 
22. After a number of negotiations with different groups on July 7, 2009 the GoA entered into a MoA with Cap Juluca Properties Ltd, a company in which Mr. Adam Aron is the principal owner. The ownership dispute was still unresolved but Mr. Aron was prepared to proceed with the purchase in good faith. 

23. In late 2010 to early 2011 Mr. Aron and Mr. Hickox came to settlement agreement based on the outcome of the dispute for US$ 75 million. Mr. Aron made a partial payment on the settlement in the amount of US$ 8 million. 

24. In October 2011 it is alleged that Mr. Aron was unable to meet his payment schedule and Mr. Hickox pursued his remedies under their settlement agreement. 

25. Since November 2011 a receiver has been appointed and the various affected parties have been wrangling to secure their several interests. 

As I indicated earlier the foregoing is only intended to be a “barebones” and simplified chronology of the Cap Juluca saga. I have intentionally not given any analysis of the facts because I only want my readers to get a sense of the issue without providing “cause and effect”, blame or even solutions. It may be obvious that this is an ownership dispute in which the Government and people of Anguilla appear to be at a serious advantage with few clear options. We hope that all the parties to this dispute will recognize the damage the closure of Cap Juluca would cause to a vulnerable economy like Anguilla, especially in these times. And I appeal to their sense of social justice and to the same expressions of affection for Anguilla and its people that they all so sincerely touted when they were seeking approval to invest in here. Hopefully then, our Chief Minister and our Government will not seem quite so “bewitched, bothered and bewildered” as they have over the past two weeks.

By: Victor F. Banks
Victor Banks is a former Finance, Economics, Commerce and Tourism Minister on Anguilla. He is presently the leader of the OpositionAnguilla United Front Party, writer and author of a weekly political article for theAnguillian News Paper, lyricist, and a self-employed entrepreneur.

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