After choosing not to comment on the internal affairs of The Palmyra since the lenders appointed a Receiver for the property last July, developer Robert Trotta has come out in full force labeling the recent article headlined “Where is the money?” highly inaccurate and slanderous. States Trotta, Board Director of The Palmyra Resort & Spa Ltd; “It is a smear campaign to discredit me, completely without basis. 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.”
Jamaica’s largest private investor says that he has deliberately remained silent for the past 12 months while trying to resolve the matter plaguing The Palmyra with National Commercial Bank and Royal Bank of Canada, with the aim of taking back control of the resort and completing construction. Says Trotta; “All figures released in the press from whatever source are highly inaccurate, and have been erroneously reported for more than a year.”
States Trotta; “Moreover, to suggest that buyer’s money is “unaccounted” for is slanderous and absolutely false. The recent article insinuates that US$2.4 million somehow disappeared or was misappropriated, which is completely false. The accounts of The Palmyra, while under my control, were audited by both Ernst & Young and Deloitte & Touche and every penny of customers money fully and completely accounted for.”
There have been no dividends paid to the developer, while the lending institutions (RBC and NCB) have been paid US$24m in principal, interest and fees. Explains Trotta; “RBC and NCB have been in possession of all company assets for the past year. More importantly, RBC and NCB have been in complete control of the company bank accounts since 2009, and in complete control of all receipts and deployment of funds.”
According to the developer, depositors received in excess of 10 notices requesting them to complete on their purchase over a 2 year period. Trotta says this can be verified by detailed documentation which exists for every single individual who purchased an apartment at The Palmyra, records which are currently in the possession of the Receiver appointed by the two lending institutions.
States Trotta; “100% of the people who paid deposits and completed on their contract have received a completed apartment in Silver Palm and Sabal Palm buildings.” The developer explains that people who purchased apartments in the uncompleted Sentry Palm building were offered apartments in Silver Palm.
According to Trotta, the Receiver is also in possession of detailed documentation which exists for every single individual who did not complete on their purchase, despite entering a legally binding contract. The lack of completions by a large percentage of purchasers who had paid deposits on apartments at The Palmyra caused considerable delays and problems to the developer, who had to inject a significant amount of additional equity to fund the completion of the two first condominium towers, Silver Palm and Sabal Palm.
Despite the challenges, Mr. Trotta presented the two lenders with a fully funded plan to complete the resort in May 2011, in which both banks would have been fully repaid by refinancing the mortgages over a longer term. Explains Trotta; “With the full cooperation of both banks the project would now have been completed.”
In spite of on-going attempts by the banks and the Receiver to sell the property to a third party, and the Auctioneers statements touting “hundreds of interested parties” at two advertised auctions, no other serious buyer for the property has yet materialized.
States Trotta; “I have made every possible attempt at recovering the property to complete it, and will continue to do so. We submitted the only and highest bid at The Palmyra auction, which the Receiver subsequently instructed the Auctioneer not to recognize.”
Aside from the abundance of completed Caribbean projects for sale, the lack of interest in The Palmyra may certainly be accredited to the impending legal action to be filed by Trotta, triggered by any third party purchase. Affirms Trotta; “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 fulfill my commitment to complete the project.”
Trotta has worked diligently over the last year to provide for the funds required for the completion of the resort. Says the developer; “At the moment, we have a fully funded plan for the completion of the project which we intend to carry out with the cooperation of both lenders.”
According to the developer, he has been holding off on legal action during long, drawn-out and difficult negotiation with the banks. Explains Trotta; “My legal and financial advisors have attempted to resolve the outstanding issues with the lenders for more than a year. Unfortunately, we have not yet been successful due to the uncooperative attitude of one of the lending institutions.”
Trotta says a lengthy lawsuit is inevitable if the issues with the lending institutions aren’t resolved in the near future; “Regrettably, unless a resolution is reached very soon, legal action may be the only way I can protect the asset.”
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