Former Tall Pines Member of Parliament Leslie Miller is suing Bank of The Bahamas for $9,642,500.28 plus damages for alleged breach of contract with regard to seven companies financed by the bank, whose assets were transfered to Bahamas Resolve Limited, and have since been put on the market for sale.
Miller and his companies are also suing the attorney general and the treasurer of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas for $9,846,639.40 plus interest for failure to pay out rent money he claims was due under five leases with the government signed December 1, 2016.
The 20-plus page writ, filed in the Supreme Court yesterday, outlines an alleged conspiracy undertaken by members of Cabinet, a former Free National Movement chairman, and current Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson to deprive Miller of his property and millions he claims the government owes him.
Miller and Summerwinds (Two Thousand) Investment Company Limited, Summerwinds 2000 Investment Company Limited, Summerwinds Bowling and Entertainment Centre Limited, Mario’s Bowling & Family Entertainment Palace Co. Ltd, Leshelmaryas Investment Company Limited, UTEP Investment Limited, and Litech Wall and Ceiling Company Limited are named as plaintiffs in the suit.
Bank of The Bahamas, the attorney general, Resolve Bahamas Limited – created to clean up toxic loans from the bank’s books – and the treasurer of The Bahamas are named as defendants.
Miller and his companies are also seeking damages, compensation; a declaration that the five leases are valid and binding; a declaration that those named in the lawsuit have unlawfully conspired to injure Miller and his companies, of which he is the beneficial owner; a declaration that the government has breached Miller’s rights to protection from unlawful entry upon his premises at Summerwinds Complex on Tonique Williams-Darling Highway; a declaration that the government has breached Miller’s right to freedom of expression of his conscience and his political views and political associations protected under the constitution; a declaration that the government has threatened to infringe on Miller’s right not to be deprived of his property; an injunction preventing the government from “furthering its scheme to unlawfully deprive” Miller of the property at Summerwinds Complex; and costs.
Miller and seven companies that occupy the Summerwinds Complex are suing the government.
Miller claims he financed the Summerwinds Complex through a mortage at Bank of The Bahamas on August 4, 1999.
He claims that he further added to that mortgage eight times over the next several years, until 2011, through loans to Summerwinds (Two Thousands) Investment Company Limited (SICL).
It is unclear from the writ what were the amounts of these loans.
Leases under the PLP
Miller, who served as the ruling Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) MP for Tall Pines from May 2012 to May 2017, was allowed by resolution of the House of Assembly on January 15, 2013 to lease his properties to the government.
The treasurer executed contracts to lease the properties for government offices.
The government entered into two leases with SICL on May 7, 2013 and July 19, 2013.
These leases required significant upgrades to the properties.
Miller claims the bank agreed to lend him $2.5 million through Summerwinds 2000 Investment Company Limited for the upgrades, of which $185,000 was advanced between February and October 2013.
Miller claims that during the first week of October, the bank stopped the payment of the funds needed for the remainder of the renovations,effectively breaching their contract and leading to the government cancelling the rental contracts because it could not occupy the premises.
Miller claims this cost him $9,117,500.28 in loss of annual rent for seven years, and set him back an additional $425,000 paid in renovation costs between February and October 2013.
However, in order to mitigate these losses, Miller and his companies entered fresh negotiations with the government and the bank resulting in five new leases with the government on December 1, 2016, with a promise to lend Miller $4,787,138.81 to do the renovations and structural work needed for the government to occupy the properties.
But Miller claims in February 2017, the treasurer failed to pay the rent money agreed to in the leases, causing him and the companies losses of $8,475,837.40 in rent and $1,370,802 in money “expended/committed” for renovations – a total of $9,846,639.40.
The FNM comes to power
The FNM won the government on May 10, 2017.
Miller also lost his seat in the House of Assembly that day.
In his suit, Miller claims the bank told him on or about May 15, 2017 that he and his companies were in default of their repayment obligations at Bank of The Bahamas and demanded full repayment of the loans.
Miller claims he couldn’t pay the loans because the government never fulfilled its obligations under the December 2016 leases.
He also claims the bank breached its contracted duty to remain confidential by allegedly allowing his private financial information to become public, causing him embarrassment, loss of goodwill and damages.
He claims the bank assigned his assets to Resolve Bahamas Limited on or about August 31, 2017 as part of “an unlawful scheme” to injure him.
Miller claims that on March 26, 2018, Resolve Bahamas Limited told him and his companies that they were in default of their loans, another part of the “scheme” to injure Miller.
Resolve Bahamas Limited, on or about April 9, 2018, appointed a receiver over Summerwinds (Two Thousand) Investment Company Limited, Summerwinds Bowling and Entertainment Centre Limited, Mario’s Bowling & Family Entertainment Palace Co. Ltd, and up to this day, that receiver manages those businesses from those premises, according to the lawsuit.
On or about June 29, 2018, those properties and all others in the Summerwinds Complex were advertised for sale by Resolve Bahamas Limited.
Miller claims all of this is part of a “wider malicious and unlawful scheme” to injure him – a purported scheme he outlined in detail in the writ.
Claims of malice
Miller claims that all members of the current Cabinet know his political leanings and recognize him as a political opponent.
He also claims all members of Cabinet are aware of the terms of his leases with the government and are “recklessly indifferent” to the terms and the likelihood that breaching those terms would trigger a default on Miller’s obligations laid out in the loan.
He also claims the government deliberately refused to pay the rental contracts in order to trigger a default on the Bank of The Bahamas loans to ultimately put his properties in receivership and up for sale.
“Essentially, the Government of The Bahamas has purported through its own wrongdoing to profit” by using Bank of The Bahamas and Bahamas Resolve Limited at Miller’s expense, he claimed.
Miller’s suit also singles out Johnson, who was appointed acting financial secretary in September 2017, as an “activist of the Free National Movement and a nemesis of Leslie Miller”.
Miller claims that during the last election campaign, Johnson published confidential information about Miller’s relationship with Bank of The Bahamas.
Miller also claimed that Johnson published “vitriolic attacks of Leslie Miller and was critical of the contractual relationship between Leslie Miller, his companies and the Government of The Bahamas”.
He also claims that Johnson “while acting as financial secretary of the Government of The Bahamas, attended and addressed a party political branch meeting of the Free Town Constituency for the Free National Movement and advised business persons at the meeting that they could purchase” Miller’s properties.
Miller says the publication of his confidential information with Bank of The Bahamas “formed part of a political campaign waged by Marlon Johnson and other members of the Free National Movement against [Miller] and any other person associated with him, such as his daughter, Leslia Miller-Brice…”
Miller said his private banking information was published numerous times in The Punch “and the damage arising therefrom exacerbated”.
Miller also said Resolve Bahamas Limited continues to threaten the sale of Miller-Brice’s assets merely because she is his daughter, lacking any legal justification.
Miller said he has written to the attorney general and met with his subordinates on April 28, 2018 to complain about the “unlawful conduct” of the government in its continued refusal to pay the rents due to the companies.
“In spite of the said protestations,” the suit said, “the defendants…have persisted in their unlawful conspiracy.”