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BY PAUL HENRY Co-ordindator
THE State may now be ordered to pay out several hundred million dollars in damages to businessman Justin O’Gilvie after the High Court lifted a two-year freeze on his assets that were being linked to former Tivoli Gardens don Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke.
Justice Lennox Campbell on Friday lifted the order following an application by O’Gilvie’s legal team led by attorney Paul Beswick.
Beswick told the Jamaica Observer that O’Gilvie will be asking the court on January 16 to assess damages in his favour as his once-profitable businesses — Incomparable Enterprises and Bulls Eye Security Services Limited — have suffered tremendously as clients fled and banks threatened to withdraw their services because of the action.
Meanwhile, Coke’s assets, including his business, Presidential Click Promotion Limited, remain frozen. The order freezing the assets of Coke’s mother, Patricia Halliburton (now deceased), the mother of his child Stephanie Gayle and that of O’Gilvie’s wife, Maxine, was also lifted on Friday.
The assets were frozen in June 2010 following an application by the Assets Recovery Agency, which had claimed that the assets were given to Coke’s relatives and friends to launder, Beswick said.
The order was obtained as Coke was being pursued by law enforcement personnel to effect an arrest warrant for his extradition to the United States on drug- and gunrunning charges.
In lifting the order on Friday, the court noted that the agency had no case.
“The said order has been removed,” noted a copy of Campbell’s order, “...the claimant does not now have evidence sufficient to succeed on the claim.”
Campbell also ordered that the agency notify in writing all the relevant parties within seven days that the order has been lifted. The agency must also inform them that there is not sufficient evidence to succeed in its claim.
The agency is expected to withdraw its claim in the Supreme Court on January 16.
Beswick told the Sunday Observer on Friday that the agency’s behaviour was “immoral” because it knew it had no case and did not seek to have the order lifted.
He also blasted the agency for acting hastily to the detriment of his client.
“Once the Asset Recovery Agency initiates proceedings there is a taint that will not go away,” Beswick said.
The attorney explained that Coke and O’Gilvie are just friends and were never in business together.
“He has been doing business for 25 years,” Beswick said of O’Gilvie. “He has pulled himself up by the bootstraps. He has admitted that he and Coke are friends. I can’t imagine he should be hung out to dry for that.”
On Friday, family friend and attorney Tom Tavares-Finson hailed Campbell’s ruling.
“This is a welcome vindication and has removed a cloud from over the heads of those affected,” he said. “Their lives have been put on hold for the past two years. I am particularly happy for Mr Justin O’Gilvie whose business enterprise has been ruined, solely on the basis of rumour, speculation and political bad mind.”
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Sunday, December 25, 2011
As 2011 comes to a close, Sunday Finance reflects on some of the big stories that made it another landmark year for commerce in Jamaica.
Shocking acquisitions, a 'cock fight' and the death of an entrepreneurial giant are among our list of top buzzworthy business events this year.
Digicel buys Claro Jamaica
America Mvil (AMX) shocked the telecoms industry in March when it announced it would sell its local Claro operations to rival Digicel Group. In return, it acquired 100 per cent of Digicel's operations in Honduras and El Salvador. The deal which was completed this month allowed Digicel to further solidify its place atop the local mobile telecommunications sector while AMX gobbled up critical market share in its Central American base.
JMMB acquires Capital & Credit
The local financial sector was stunned in August with news that Jamaica Money Market Brokers (JMMB) was acquiring up to 100 per cent of Capital & Credit Financial Group (CCFG). JMMB offered a 70 per cent cash payment of J$2.95 billion and the remainder by way of an issue of new ordinary shares in JMMB to the shareholders of CCFG, subject to the necessary JMMB shareholder approvals being obtained. The deal, subject to regulatory approval, means JMMB will now have 180,000 clients and assets under management on balance sheet of $160 billion. When one talks about off balance sheet, that figure is closer to $180 billion when both finance houses are combined.
David Smith gets 30 years
David Smith, the Jamaican who headed the collapsed investment scheme, Olint, was in August sentenced to 30 years in prison by the United States District Court in Orlando, Florida. Smith, who was accused of defrauding thousands of customers of more than US$220 million, was convicted after pleading guilty to 18 counts of money laundering, four counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering. US District Judge Mary Scriven handed down the sentence after hearing three hours of legal arguments and victim testimony, which was emotional at times.
American Airlines bankrupt
American Airlines, which flies more passengers to and from Jamaica than any other carrier, and its parent AMR went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy last month seeking protection from creditors who are owed US$29.6 billion ($2.5 trillion).
The company also announced that their chairman and CEO, Gerard Arpey, 53, who earned US$5.2 million last year, was retiring, to be replaced by president Thomas Horton, 49.
The dramatic move came after American failed in its attempts to negotiate cost-cutting agreements with its unions. Every other major US airline went into Chapter 11 protection after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks sent the aviation industry into a tailspin. Emerging with lower debt and pension obligations, they were able to out-compete American, which claimed to have a US$800 million wage gap.
NCB to list in New York
National Commercial Bank (NCB) in June decided to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) following an announcement, made a month earlier, that it would cross-list on a North American exchange. The commercial banking group aims to raise US$175 million through an initial public offering but said at the end of May that it would decide between the New York-based exchange and the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX).
CB reported an 18 per cent increase in net profit to $13 billion over the year ending September 30, 2011, buoyed by a $1-billion gain on investments in JMMB and Kingston Properties Limited.
Under the guidance of Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Dr Christopher Tufton, Jamaica saw an influx of invesments into the information communication technology (ICT) sector in 2011. Just this month, one of the largest agent-assisted customer service companies in the world, Convergys Corporation, announced that it would open its first call centre in Jamaica next year, hiring 1,000 locals. Government has set a target to facilitate the build-out of 500,000 square feet of space for the business processing industry over the next three to five years as part of its plan to more than double ICT jobs in Jamaica over that period. As part of the initiative, a US$20 million infrastructure loan facility was launched last month to support growth in the sector. The financing support is aimed at developing at least 350,000 square-feet of appropriate ICT ready space to accommodate tier one operators in the ICT sector, which is expected to generate 10,000 new jobs locally.
Black Sand eyes Lascelles
Former managing director of local conglomerate Lascelles d Mercado, William McConnell, staged a bold move earlier this year to acquire the company he once headed.
McConnell made the move as part of the Black Sand consortium of investors, which in July announced its intention to acquire not less than 90 per cent of the ordinary shares and all of the six per cent preference shares, as well as all the 15 per cent preference shares of Lascelles deMercado. Only two years ago, McConnell and others sold their majority shares in Lascelles to CL Financial for approximately US$750 million and now, McConnell's consortium is offering US$350 million for it.
Red Stripe moves production to US
In a strategic move that will likely mean loss of local jobs, Red Stripe announced its plan to shift production of its beer destined for the US to North America under a licence agreement. The company said that the returns it expects from higher penetration into the US market and more focus on the domestic side of its business should put the company on a stronger footing. According to its audited financial results for the year ended June 30, 2011, revenues from export to the US represented $2.86 billion, or 25.7 per cent of total revenue and 73.6 per cent of export revenue, which was down from $3.03 billion, or 27.2 per cent of revenue and 77 per cent of exports in the prior year.
Caribbean Broilers (CB) was forced to scrap plans to use chicken waste parts to make poultry feedstock after public pressure and jabs from main rival, Jamaica Broilers (JB).
The idea came up as CB contemplated what it would ultimately do with byproducts it would process at a protein recovery plant that would make high-grade protein derived from the chicken waste parts (feathers, blood and offal comprising heads, wind pipes and intestines), described in a project brief submitted to the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA).
But an article published in the Business Observer brought the proposed project to public attention not least of all, JB and within days, JB put out an ad stating that "we do not feed chicken to chicken". CB's response in its ad said: "Caribbean Broilers would like to assure you that we have never 'fed chicken to chicken' and will not be doing so". The ad went on to say that the company was researching environmentally friendly ways to dispose of unused chicken parts.
CB subsequently caved in, announcing via an advertisement that "although there was a discussion regarding the use of this item in the production of chicken feed, in what is an internationally accepted practice, we have noted the response of the Jamaican public and will therefore not be considering this option".
Steve Jobs, the Apple founder and former CEO who invented and masterfully marketed ever-sleeker gadgets that transformed everyday technology, from the personal computer to the iPod and iPhone, died in October. He was 56.
Jobs had battled cancer in 2004 and underwent a liver transplant in 2009 after taking a leave of absence for unspecified health problems. He took another leave of absence in January his third since his health problems began before resigning as CEO six weeks before his death.
Demarco does it for LIME
Sunday, December 25, 2011
DANCEHALL star Demarco, whose hit single I Love My Life which has gained over 10 million viewers on YouTube, is turning his love for life into a Christmas jingle for telecoms provider LIME.
Replacing the word ‘life’ with ‘LIME’, Demarco has remixed the 2011 smash hit creating a very catchy jingle which highlights the company's Christmas offer of a lifetime of services.
I Love My Life is already featured in one of the commercials for the Christmas of a Lifetime campaign, in which LIME gifts its customers with free services for 40 years. After they overcome the surprise of winning, lucky customers spontaneously sing and dance to the chart-topping hit while receiving their prizes.
“This song is such a great sentiment to the celebration of life; it is about enjoyment, feeling good and living life to the fullest. Plus, it is a huge hit. That's why it is perfect for our Christmas of a Lifetime promotion because what we are giving our customers will make them feel good, eliminating some of their financial responsibilities for not one but up to 40 years. This is a historic promotion as it has never been done before by any brand anywhere in the region. We give people lots to celebrate,” said Grace Silvera, Regional Vice-president, marketing and corporate communications at LIME.
The Christmas of a Lifetime promotion will name 330 individual winners of Landline, Internet, Mobile and TV service for 40 years as well as five winners of all the services for the same time period.