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China Construction America Inc. was accused in a lawsuit of ripping off the original developer of the long-delayed $3.9 billion Baha Mar resort in the Bahamas by submitting fraudulent bills and collecting undeserved fees.
BML Properties Ltd., led by wealthy Bahamas businessman Sarkis Izmirlian, sued CCA Tuesday claiming the state-owned Chinese contractor pulled off a “massive fraud” to enrich itself at BML’s expense, leading to the collapse of the project in 2015. Delays in the construction of the biggest and most expensive resort to be built in the Caribbean have been a drag on the Bahamian economy in recent years.
BML claims that CCA submitted hundreds of millions of dollars in fake bills, understaffed the project and used it as a training ground for inexperienced workers. CCA knew it wouldn’t be able to meet the planned December 2014 deadline to open the resort but created the appearance that it would, in order to remain on the project and collect undeserved fees, BML claims. BML is seeking at least $2.25 billion in damages.
CCA didn’t respond to phone messages and an email seeking comment on the suit.
BML filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in Delaware in 2015. A U.S. bankruptcy judge dismissed the case in favor of a Bahamian court.
Baha Mar, which opened in April, is now owned by Hong Kong-based, Chow Tai Fook Enterprises Ltd. The development features more than 2,300 rooms, 40 restaurants and lounges, a convention center, a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course, shopping and the biggest casino in the Caribbean, according to Baha Mar’s website.
BML outlined its claims in a 259-page complaint filed in state court in Manhattan.
The case is BML Properties Ltd. v. China Construction America Inc., 657550/2017, New York State Supreme Court, New York County (Manhattan).
©2017 Bloomberg L.P.