The Japanese investors of Suwaso Corp., the then majority owner of the Coral Ocean Point Resort Club, pulled out from COP because of the actions of the Department of Public Lands under the previous Fitial administration, according to attorney Vincent DLG. Torres yesterday.
Torres, of Suwaso Corp., said the result of DPL's termination of the lease agreement and the seizure of the resort's bank accounts was “catastrophic.”
Torres said that COP suffered severe financial losses in the thousands of dollars because the hotel was unable to accept credit card payments at the pro shop and the restaurant.
“Our Japanese investors decided to pull out because they simply did not want to deal with the [Fitial] administration any more, forcing my partner to sell his COP shares,” said the lawyer, who used to serve as chairman of the Suwaso board.
Torres issued the statement to “set the record straight” regarding Suwaso Corp.
In September 2012, then governor Benigno R. Fitial announced that South Korea real estate mogul E Land Group is now majority owner of COP. E-Land is now Suwaso's partner at COP.
Torres pointed that the Fitial administration has neither done nor given COP any favors since they purchased the hotel in 2011 and during the time he was board chair.
“The record is very clear that the Fitial administration objected to the lease extension and in fact later attempted to wrongfully terminate the lease agreement pertaining to the COP property on the false premise of unpaid taxes,” Torres said.
He revealed that at one point DPL wrongfully seized all of COP's bank accounts.
Since COP had complied with all the terms of the lease agreement, including tax requirements, a litigation ensued between DPL and COP, he said.
During the litigation, he said, COP retained a public auditor to audit COP's tax payments to the CNMI government.
Torres said the record showed that COP in fact overpaid the government by more than $100,000.
“The Department of Finance consequently issued a release of tax lien of $1.5 million (perhaps a lien that was filed many years ago) because COP was never owed that much tax, at least not since we purchased [it],” he said.
During that time, Torres said, they were in the process of filing lawsuits against the Fitial administration, including several individuals, for damages and injuries COP suffered.
Torres said they, however, opted instead to settle and move on with their project.
He pointed out that DPL then correctly and properly issued a certificate stating that Suwaso Corp. was not in default of its lease agreement and is up to date with its rental payments.
Torres said they are glad that the case is settled, the political show is over, and that they are moving forward with E-Land as their partner.
“We are certainly looking forward to working with the Inos administration, moving forward with our project and contributing to the betterment of our ailing economy,” Torres added.
COP is located on a 735,023 square meter property at Agingan Point, Saipan.