Businessman Scott Godet, who had entered into a public-private partnership with the government of The Bahamas under the Christie administration for the creation of a new building to house the General Post Office, is suing the government for violating that agreement, according to Damian Gomez, QC.
Gomez said that Godet has already issued a writ. While he said he could not give an exact amount, Gomez said yesterday that Godet’s claim will be a large one. He last week suggested there could be tens of millions of dollars in damages involved.
The General Post Office was relocated to the Town Centre Mall in May following years of complaints about conditions at the former East Hill Street location.
This came after the Christie administration had already made arrangements to move the post office to the Independence Shopping Centre.
The then government entered into a public-private partnership with the center’s owners, La Grange Investments, who would develop the location.
However, the project was halted after public outcry from Garden Hills residents, who claimed the location would have negatively impacted their quality of life.
Godet, president of La Grange Investments, told The Tribune in October that he had suffered nearly $4 million in losses, and had been unable to do anything with his property for 18 months as he waited for the government to provide clarification on its plans.
Speaking last week on Star 106 Hits’ “The Hit Back” with Nahaja Black, Gomez said that the government’s legal fees could significantly increase the cost associated with the move to Town Centre Mall.
“The government had other contracts for the same post office, and I am aware that they may be sued in relation to these matters, and know that we know that the cost from Brent’s side is what it is, you have to add the cost of the litigation and the damages that arise therefrom in your assessment of whether this was really in the best interest of the government and the people of The Bahamas,” he said.
“We’re talking about tens of millions of dollars in damages.”
He added, “I am telling you that this is something that is going to happen and they are going to be liable.”
“So, the taxpayer ends up paying for this and contrary to what has been said by some members of the press, this does not benefit the country if the country is, as a result of it, saddled with a bill for $20 or $30 million to other people.”
He said he learned through the media that the government decided to move the post office to the Town Centre Mall, which is owned by St. Anne’s MP Brent Symonette and his brother.
The government’s announcement of the move last year was heavily criticized over the perceived conflict of interest.
The issue came to the forefront again in recent weeks with Symonette’s resignation from Cabinet, which he has insisted was unrelated to conflict of interest claims concerning the post office and the award of water works and airport contracts to Bahamas Hot Mix, which Symonette’s children’s trust owns minority shares in.
While Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis had insisted that Symonette was not involved in any discussions regarding the decision to relocate the post office to Town Centre Mall, Symonette revealed in a recent interview that he and the prime minister discussed the terms of the lease when the prime minister called him on the matter. He did not say when the call was made, but indicated it came ahead of the government’s resolution to lease the space.
Education: Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish
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