Grenadian Tourism minister supports controversial land deal despite Tilman Thomas admin having 2nd thoughts
Grenada’s government appears to have had a change of heart about a controversial land deal, struck by the former Keith Mitchell administration and involving Formula One racing star Lewis Hamilton.
On Friday, Prime Minister Tillman Thomas said that all previous contracts by the former regime, including the deal for the purchase of the Grand Beach Resort, would be subjected to review.
Lloyd Noel, the spokesman for the newly-established Advisory Committee set up to look into sale of State lands, also argued that the transaction with the company, registered as Time Bourke Holdings (Grenada) Limited, should be declared “null and void“.
But when questioned by reporters in St. George’s on Sunday, Tourism Minister Peter David said he was excited about the prospects of the British Formula One Driver backing a major hotel development in Grenada – the homeland of his father.
“The Attorney General has reviewed the contractual deal associated with the transactions, and has found no case of impropriety on the part of the Lewis Hamilton team,” David said.
The deed for the property shows that the government transferred property worth US$15 million to the British driver “free from encumbrances” in exchange for using his image and name for the next four years in the promotion of tourism.
However, Hamilton’s group did pay US $35 million for the Grenada Grand Beach Resort built on the property, according to a copy of the deed seen by reporters. The deed was signed July 7, a day before the general elections.
“While we could be critical of all agreements, and perhaps in this case the government could have negotiated stronger to get more from the transaction, to suggest any underhand dealing by the purchaser or his agents, is not only unfortunate, but incorrect.”
“All indications are that the purchase of the property is legitimate, and the government will indeed fulfill its contractual agreements surrounding the sale and development of the Grand Beach,” he said.
David added: “This Government remains excited about the prospect of the Lewis Hamilton team developing the hotel property further, for it will not only enhance our tourism product, but redound to the benefit of the wider society.”
Hamilton is a leading British Formula One driver who also has relatives residing there.
“The policy of this government is to encourage every legitimate investment and we view the proposed Grand Beach development as a significant step forward. It is in keeping with this administration’s intention to aggressively push for the growth of the tourism sector,” David said.