PHILIPSBURG – Parliamentarian Rolando Brison (United St. Maarten Party) has tabled a motion for a parliamentary enquiry – a first for Sint Maarten politics – into the ownership of Mullet Bay. The proposed enquiry would last 32 weeks and cost 519.200 guilders (almost 256.000 euros).
The area used to be the location of the Mullet Bay Resort, which at one point was the largest employer on Sint Maarten with 1800 employees. Hurricane Luis destroyed the resort in 1995 and it was never rebuilt. In 2011 the resort was fully demolished.
Controversial businessman Ansary
The current owner is Sun Resorts Ltd., a company owned by 93 year old Iranian-American businessman Hushang Ansary. The businessman has the resort listed on insurance company Ennia’s books for 771 million guilders (381 million euros).
According to the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten the actual value of the property is 89 million guilders (44 million euros). In 2018, the Office of the Public Prosecutor sequestrated thirteen Ansary-owned companies, including Sun Resorts.
Conflict of interests
Ennia bought the dilapidated Mullet Bay resort from Ansary’s investment company. That investment company purchased the resort from a different company owned by Ansary, financed with a loan from Ennia. That’s the conclusion of a classified report of De Nederlandsche Bank on Ennia from 2015, which the Financieele Dagblad (FD) reported on in 2016.
The purpose of the enquiry is to investigate how far the ownership rights of Sun Resorts extend. The company claims ownership of the Mullet Bay Pond, the beach, and a part of the ocean which according to the law isn’t possible. The enquiry should also determine whether Sint Maarten can obtain ownership of the property through the purchase thereof or eminent domain.
‘Return to the people’
As the submitter of the motion, Brison will become the chairperson of the enquiry commission, which will include members from all factions and a member of the Presidium. Brison is sure that his motion will receive the required majority even though the debate has not yet been scheduled. The aim is to ‘return Mullet Bay to the people’, according to Brison.