Half Moon Bay Holdings (HMB) has threatened to file an injunction against the government for selling shares at the West Indies Oil Company (WIOC) to the public.
Prime minister Gaston Browne says his administration will defend any threat of an injunction brought against his government.
He said that the entire public of Antigua and Barbuda is fully aware that for several years there has been a pre-existing decision of the government to sell 10 percent of the shares in the West Indies Oil Company to the public.
Browne said, “I am confident that any reasonable judge will look at the facts, the public interest in this matter and strike out any such claim of contempt.”
Half Moon Bay Resort is a beach-front property that had a hotel and other amenities sitting on 108.17 acres.
The government forcibly acquired the property in 2007, hoping to reinvest in it and make it a competitive hotel.
But to do so, it agreed to compensate the company about 50 million dollars.
A ruling from the ongoing court matter requested that the government not dispose any of WIOC’s shares, while that money was being paid off, since it was part of the cost agreement.
Prime Minister Browne said their interpretation of that was the 41 percent, not the 51 percent shares. He also said “it could have been a situation in which the information that was given was not clear and they did not take into consideration that there was this pre-existing commitment.”
Browne also believes that a court does not have the legal jurisdiction to override a Minister of Finance on the prioritization of any debt to any debtor, and to determine where the payment should come from, especially during a global crisis.
The government currently owes Half Moon Bay Holdings $18 million dollars, after making an eight-million-dollar payment in March of 2020.