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The Mt. Hartman sell-out

The area known as Mt Hartman is now occupied by the Chinese following a sale agreement signed with the former NNP government

$US40 million.

That’s what the former New National Party (NNP) government of Keith Mitchell sold a portion of Mt. Hartman in the south of the island to a group of Chinese investors to develop a US$2 billion project.

The figure was revealed by Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell at a Town Hall meeting Monday night in the St George North-east constituency as part of the National Democratic Congress’ second anniversary celebrations in office following the June 2022 general election when it deposed the NNP from office.

“Upon assuming office, we discovered that a private Chinese firm purchased two of the three lots at Mt. Hartman. Those lots were sold to them by the former administration at a price of US$40 million,” the Prime Minster said in answer to a question.

According to PM Dickon Mitchell, the agreement signed with the Chinese investors gave them an option to buy all 3 lots including the important Dove Sanctuary site.

However, he said the Chinese firm decided against accepting the option to buy the land on which sits the bird sanctuary.

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell disclosed that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance confirmed that the monies from the Chinese were deposited into the Government Consolidated account in a local commercial bank.

He said the Chinese were required to make two payments of US$20 million each and that the records showed that the final payment was made in December 2021 or sometime in early 2022.

The Prime Minister told the packed hall at the Town Hall meeting that the Mt Hartman project has been approved as a Citizenship By Investment (CBI) project to benefit from the sale of Grenadian passports to help with its development.

He dropped hints that the current NDC administration is not totally happy with what is taking place at Mt. Hartman involving the Chinese developers.

“The project is ongoing. I will reserve my comment as to whether or not it is going in a state that is factory to the government but when you sign contractual agreements you have to give everybody a fair opportunity to prove themselves and so we are committed to giving the firm that opportunity to do so,” he said.

A Chinese outfit known as Mt. Hartman Resort had initially announced that it would be spending US$2 billion on a luxury hotel project on over 270 acres of prime real estate land in the southern part of the island.

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However, in April 2021, a local close to the Chinese revealed that the idea has been scrapped and the new plan was to build a modern Science and Technology university and state-of-the-art hospital to attract international students from around the world.

He said the university will offer Bachelor’s to PhD degrees in Science and Technology and that the Chinese would build a hotel as part of the new development proposed for Mt. Hartman.

He added that the proposed modern state-of-the-art hospital will be doing not only Emergency care but also major surgeries.

The Hong Kong-based movie actor and film producer Jackie Chan was being touted as one of the major investors involved in the new Mt. Hartman project in which China Harbour was identified as the construction company engaged to build the facility to be completed in a 2-year timeframe.

The Mt.Hartman project was clouded in controversy since its beginning when one of its principal participants Charles Liu was charged by the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly defrauding investors in his cancer treatment project in California.

A former official of the NNP government of Keith Mitchell told THE NEW TODAY that Liu was initially given a lease to develop Mt. Hartman but he later came back and informed the then Grenadian leader that many of the investors were reluctant to pour money into the project unless the land was sold to them.

Mitchell agreed and struck a deal with the Liu-lead team of investors to purchase the Mt. Hartman site for US$40 million.

About 10 years earlier, a previous Keith Mitchell-led NNP regime suffered a massive financial loss at Mt. Hartman with an American investor named E.J Miller when it guaranteed a loan for him for approximately US$10 million from a development bank in Europe and he reneged on the repayment.

The government was sued and reached a settlement to repay the money.

A former official in the 2018-22 NNP government told THE NEW TODAY that a committee was set up by the administration involving former Agriculture Minister Peter David and former Climate Resilience Minister Senator Simon Stiell to look at the use of Mt. Hartman as a development area.

He said the committee heard months after that Prime Minister Keith Mitchell had sold Mt. Hartman to the Chinese investors without their knowledge.

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