Gov’t promises to pay HMB Holdings Limited in 30 days

HMB Holdings Limited wanted the courts, through an order of Mandamus, to compel Minister of Finance Gaston Browne to pay the company US $45 million owed.

The legal ramifications of disobeying Mandamus, include imprisonment. However, The AG’s actions averted any such order by the Court.

Benjamin said within the 30-day period, he expects to put forward a “reasoned” installment plan that he hopes HMB Holdings Limited Managing Director Natalia Querard would find acceptable.

Using strong, forceful language, Browne, who is also the prime minister of Antigua & Barbuda, described Querard as unreasonable. He said she did not accept a payment of EC $1 million the government was willing to make, in Court, as a goodwill gesture.

He said she also rejected a plan that would see HMB receiving US $20 million within the next six months, and instead wanted the full amount owed upfront.

“What is happening, Mrs Querard is being greedy,” he said.

When OBSERVER media contacted Querard, she was circumspect, noting that the matters were still before the courts.

“I don’t want to get into a he said, she said, with them,” she said of the government.

“There is an obligation, it’s a constitutional obligation, it’s a statutory obligation, it’s a matter of decency, ultimately, it’s a matter of international law, it’s a matter of all those things that people take for granted.”

The prime minister said, however, that government hopes to sell the Half Moon Bay property and present Querard with about half of the sum owed in short order.

“I believe that early in the New Year Half Moon Bay will get a cheque for $20 million,” Browne said.


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