WILLEMSTAD – As previously reported, Venezuelan citizen Luis Correa has been involved in several construction projects on the island involving millions of dollars. Projects that seemed worth investing in. These were never really completed or even started as millions of dollars were entrusted to this man. One such project is the so-called airport hotel on property owned by Curaçao Airport Holding (CAH). Like everything else Luis Correa touched, that too is nothing, leaving behind defrauded investors who will never see their money again.
In a document from the International Court of Arbitration, the case between the companies owned by Luis Correa, Seamax Foundation and Golden Investment Private Foundation (Golden), and those who invested in the construction of the hotel, under the name of Bridgetown Procurement Services, is very well explained. Curaçao Chronicle is in possession of this document.
Golden is registered with the Curaçao Chamber of Commerce. According to this record, the founder and director is Seamax. Seamax is a legal entity incorporated under the laws of Panama by Mosaique Holdings, Inc. This company is domiciled in Panama. According to documents seen by Curaçao Chronicle, Correa is the ultimate beneficial owner of Seamax and related entities.
All that remains on the property was the Curacao Airport Hotel that was to be built.
The company that is the actual investor in the Curacao airport hotel is Bridgetown. This company is registered in Barbados. The original agreement was that Bridgetown would own the 50% beneficial interest in Golden for the project to be executed in Curacao.
On January 8, 2018, Golden and Curacao Airport Holdings signed a lease agreement for the site near Curacao International Airport to build the hotel. There were several conditions for the granting of this emphyteutic lease, such that the construction must start no later than six months from the date of issue of the building permit. The whole construction project cannot take more than three years.
On February 24, 2016, Giro Bank wrote to Golden that it was interested in funding the project, but that letter is not a funding commitment. This would be subject to Giro Bank’s internal due diligence and the approval of its credit committee. Giro Bank has requested additional information from Correa.
In March of that year, Correa approached Bridgetown with the business proposal for building the hotel. Correa indicated in his plan that he would need around $9.5 million for the project. But an upfront payment of $1.5 million must be made and a cash flow of over $2 million in working capital. According to Correa, the rest of the funds would come from a financial institution, in this case most likely the Giro Bank.
Luis Correa is living the good life in Miami while his investors are still looking to get their money back.
On July 4, 2016, Bridgetown paid Correa $200,000. From October 27 to December 2016, Bridgetown also paid a total of $1.3 million to Correa. The investment company’s total payment to Correa was $1.5 million. On March 14 and 15, 2017, representatives from Seamax, Golden and Bridgetown met in Curaçao to discuss Golden’s governance, re-engineering, design and project costs.
In a letter dated March 28, 2017, Golden informed CAH that they had begun construction of the hotel. Golden listed several activities and dates in their letter as proof of their work. CAH replied to Correa on April 4, 2017 that they could not approve the start of construction. Indeed, several of the agreed requirements were not met by Correa’s company. One of the requirements that was not yet met was proof confirming the availability of funds in relation to the realization of the project. CAH also wanted to know if the investment is in line with the business plan presented by Correa.
On May 2, 2017, Bridgetown demanded from Correa a transfer of 50% of the beneficial interest in Golden as previously agreed. The investment company also demanded that it have its representative on the board of directors, the modification of the articles of association, the delivery of proof of bank financing commitment and the rendering of accounts on how the initial investment of $292,000 was spent.
Meanwhile, Golden was negotiating with the development bank Korpodeko which demanded 40% personal investment from the promoters of the project. Golden then told Bridgetown that in addition to the initial loan, they also needed to help find 50% of the financing for the hotel. But Golden did not honor any of the agreements made with Bridgetown, CAH or Korpodeko. In a letter to Golden, Bridgetown accused Luis Correa of lack of cooperation and violation of the signed memorandum of understanding, which after repeated reminders was never materially corrected. For this reason, Bridgetown dissolved the MoU on October 6, 2018.
This case was presented to a sole arbitrator in The Hague, and his conclusions were that Golden/Seamax owned by Venezuelan Luis Correa did not comply with the memorandum of understanding. The arbitrator accepted the following breaches of the MoU by Seamax/Golden; Bridgetown’s far too late involvement as director and beneficiary of Golden, Bridgetown’s insufficient and timely involvement in securing project financing, and failure to adequately report how the initial investment of 292 000 dollars has been spent.
Curaçao Chronicle interviewed the owners of the construction company originally contracted for the project, Constructora RB21 CA, and they also said that Luis Correa had never properly shown how he had used the funds provided by Bridgetown. All of the bills Correa presented as evidence were debts he had to pay to the creditors of his other project, Piscadera Harbor Village Resort. It is also another failed project in which Correa defrauded several investors.
In this case, Luis Correa defrauded investors who were willing to invest their money in Curaçao. Investors who believed in the island and were willing to invest in big projects that could have benefited Curaçao.