(Demerara Waves) The Bank of Guyana  (BOG) on Thursday accused exporters of causing a slide in the Guyana dollar by locking off foreign exchange in their accounts while  at the same time buying currencies on the open market.

“The BOG noted that there has been hoarding of foreign currency by exporters, as evidenced by the large foreign currency balances that are being held in their exporters’ retention accounts.

Instead of using these balances to complete their transactions, they have been sourcing foreign currency in the market. This has added further pressure on the demand for foreign currency and reduced the supply to the market. Both of these factors have contributed to the instability and depreciation of the rate,” the Central Bank said in a statement.

This is the second time in several months that the BOG has offered major reasons for the plummeting exchange rate; the first having been that persons had been coming to Guyana with large quantities of Trinidad and Tobago, and Barbados dollars and selling them on the Guyanese market.  In turn, they had been using Guyana dollars to buy and take out large amounts of United States (US) dollars.

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(Barbados Today) In what could be music to the ears of Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler, a visiting senior economist is strongly recommending a do-it-yourself formula to resolve the island’s economic crisis.

Former Governor of the Central Bank of Ireland Dr Patrick Honohan Thursday said Barbados could solve its problems without outside help, since no one understood the economy as well as Barbadians did.

“You as a country, it is the country that solves its problems. It is not outsiders. The last thing you want is for somebody, either me, or somebody from Washington, to come here to say, ‘I know what you should do, you should do this, this and this, and please do it quickly’. No, that is not the way any country is going to deal with its problem. Why? Because any prescription that is coming from outside will be adopted half-heartedly at best or even at worse it could be said, ‘oh, what does he know,’” he told journalists at the Central Bank Thursday morning.

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PROVIDENCIALES, TCI -- More than 500 investors have reportedly been swindled out at least $70 million in a development in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI), with the majority of investors being from the US and UK. 

 

The Caicos Beach Resort and Marina on South Caicos was to be developed by the High Point Organization of Kissimmee, Florida, which currently operates a similar resort in Florida. High Point is run by attorneys Patricia and Brian Rahl (which they inherited from their late father) and Ronald Kirchgessner and his son Paul Kirchgessner. 

 

According to a group of investors, the developer had no intention of building the resort but rather schemed to steal investors’ deposits for their own personal benefit. Alleged money laundering, misappropriation of funds, and fraud were all said to have been perpetrated by High Point. 

 

The TCI is considered an ideal vacation destination where anyone would love to own property. The dark truth is it is riddled with a history of corruption from government officials to law firms, all capitalising on investor interest in the island. 

 

Former TCI premier, Michael Misick, is currently on trial for corruption and conspiracy, facing accusations of embezzling more than $16 million. The listed management company for Caicos Beach Resort is Chalmers Management, which is headed by Misick’s brother, Chal Misick who is also being tried for corruption, misconduct, fraud, along with ten other counts. 

 

The Rahls reportedly presented themselves to investors as representatives for the developers but in fact had control over the deposits and a vested interest in the development. They are believed to have misappropriated investors’ deposits in their attorneys trust account, lied to investors about an agreement with the government to complete an international airport on South Caicos, and falsified the status of the resort in order to implement a force majeure clause in the contracts relating to the extension of the airport. 

 

Notwithstanding that the purchase contracts stated that investment funds were to be used only for construction, records of Caicos Beach International trust accounts going back to 2000 are said to prove the attorneys misappropriated funds, spending investors’ deposits on legal fees, homes, cars, funding their Florida law firm, shopping, tennis and boat clubs, capital withdrawals and exorbitant payments to Black and Platinum American Express cards to name a few. 

 

According to the investor group, Patricia and Brian Rahl abused their standing as attorneys at law and threatened investors. Investors would call their office in Florida only to be ignored and lied to about the progress of the development. Upon requesting their deposits returned, investors were informed the developer would utilize investors’ deposits to fight them in court rather than use the money for construction. Disgruntled investors were instructed to send a complaint to their local representatives. 

 

A former member of parliament for South Caicos, Alden Durham, was to have signed every contract as president of Caicos Beach Resort. Durham was appointed to the board of directors of the Turks and Caicos Islands Ports Authority in February 2015. There are five offshore accounts in Nevis linked to Caicos Beach Resort of which Durham serves as a paid director. 

 

Promises of passports and international tax incentives were approved by government officials who were “paid” directors of the Caicos Beach Resort. Letters from former Premier Misick to High Point executives discuss “agreements” to extend airport by 2007.

 

High Point began selling units in the form of “Forward Purchase Agreements” in 2001, with the promise that the resort would be completed in 2006. The brochures were filled with false information as to the status of the resort and investment opportunities in order to entice investors. It boasted that “the Island of South Caicos hosts somewhat surprising infrastructure as follows: International Airport with a runway currently capable of 737 Class Aircraft”. 

 

Now, 15 years later, the developers are laying blame on the government for not upgrading the airport. The truth, which can now be proven, is the developers spent investors’ deposits years ago and not on construction and the development stands as a mere shell today. 

 

After 2008 the resort was still not close to completion and High Point capitalised on a clause in investors’ contracts and claimed “force majeure” due to two hurricanes, even though there was no substantial damage to the buildings. This allowed them to withhold investors’ deposits indefinitely (which they did) and provided additional time to find more financing. 

 

Several key UK agents greatly benefited from the sale of units, with some taking over $1 million in commissions in one year. One such firm, Brookes and Company, focused on sales through pensions and received over $900,000 in commissions in 2008, even after sales were to be halted. Investors who bought units through their pension or trust funds were allocated Building “E”, which was never built nor even in the chain of land. 

 

Brookes and Company’s brochures renamed the resort Caicos Reef to hide the real name, which if searched online, potential investors would read the history of the failed resort on the investor forum. The brochure stated that over $85 million was invested by the developer in the resort, which was a lie. Another sales brochure in 2007 stated the developer invested over $55 million and debt free. These were all lies, as there was at the time a $15 million loan from Scotia Bank.

 

A big draw and boost of confidence to investors was that the resort was “apparently” endorsed by English football stars John Terry and Rio Ferdinand and still states such on its website.

 

UK financial advisors enticed pensioners with grossly inaccurate brochures, making visits to their homes, offering “safe, no-risk, income generating investment opportunities in Turks and Caicos” by utilising their future pensions. The state of the project and its potential were all falsified by the US developers. 

 

One such financial advisor, David Lucas of Cavendish Financial, was paid a commission directly from High Point and would recommend Brookes and Company for the sale. Also, an international lawyer domiciled in the UK was put in the mix to add to the commission flow, none of which would be heard from after the scam unfolded. 

 

Richard Ford of Destination Sun Homes was one of the most active agents in the UK. His office is conveniently located next to Brookes and Company and Cavendish Financial. Ford has personally made over $500,000 in commissions, even in 2009 when sales were to be halted a year prior due to the hurricanes. Ford was in contact with investors and encouraged them to hold on to their investments, as the resort was “due to open”. Agents lied to investors and continued to sell units, knowing the status of the resort. Today, Ford enjoys a villa on the Costa del Sol with pensioners’ hard earned money. 

 

When money was running out, High Point attempted to find lenders by providing a false survey on the resort to boost the value. One such surveyor out of Palm Beach, Florida, estimated the resort was worth up to $300 million in 2012. This estimate is based on false information provided by the High Point attorneys as they distorted the status of the development and claimed it to be 70-80% complete. In April 2015, a High Point representative stated in an interview that the construction was 50% complete. 

 

On April 9, 2015, unbeknown to the investors, the development was sold at auction for just $3.7 million to a local developer (not the $300 million that High Point boasted as its worth three years prior). 

 

The former governor of the TCI, Peter Beckingham, had offered to assist Caicos Beach Resort investors in finding answers with regard to how such a valuable piece of oceanfront property could be just “given away”.

 

But what occurred was that the TCI government put no effort in investigating and prosecuting the fraudsters. The former director of public prosecutions, John Masters, and his deputy, Martin Cook, wasted investors’ time, arranging meetings in London, instructing them to create and generate hundreds of hours of documentation and evidence for nothing. 

 

The failure in completing the development over the years was blamed on the TCI government for not upgrading the airport and two hurricanes in 2008. However, the CEO of the TCI Airports Authority claimed in 2011 that there was no guarantee of upgrading the airport as the government had doubts as to the completion of the development, which was already ongoing for 17 years. 

 

This information was never revealed to investors and the developers continued to send out information that the government was going to upgrade and expand the airport and that the Florida attorneys were continuing negotiations. 

 

Investors are left with no information and have been fleeced out of their savings and pensions. Some investors lost even more money when they hired corrupt lawyers in the TCI to represent them. 

 

 

“If any investors are interested in developments in this region we would encourage you to think twice. The government does not police Ponzi schemes or fraudulent acts on individuals,” the investor group said.

NEW YORK (AP) — Sears, once the monolith of American retail, says that there is "substantial doubt" that it will be able to keep its doors open.

 

Company shares, which hit an all-time low last month, tumbled more than 5 percent before the opening bell Wednesday.

 

Millions of dollars have been funneled through the hedge fund of Chairman and CEO Edward Lampert to keep Sears afloat but with sales fading, it is burning through cash. Lampert combined Sears and Kmart in 2005, about two years after he helped bring Kmart out of bankruptcy

 

According to a regulatory filing late Tuesday, Sears Holdings Corp. lost more than $2 billion last year. Adjusted for one-time charges, its loss was $887 million.

 

Sears has been selling assets, most recently its Craftsman tool brand. But it says its pension agreements may prevent the spin-off of more businesses, potentially leading to a shortfall in funding.

 

"Our historical operating results indicate substantial doubt exists related to the company's ability to continue as a going concern," Sears said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

 

Sears, which employs 140,000 people, announced a major restructuring plan in February with hopes of cutting costs by $1 billion through the sale of more stores, jobs cuts and brand asset sales. And it's reconfiguring its debts to give itself more breathing room.

But it has to get more people through the doors or shopping for Sears brands online.

 

Sales at Sears and Kmart locations that have been open at least a year, a key indicator of a retailer's health, dropped 10.3 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

 

The company plans to use a big portion of the $900 million it got for Craftsman to shore up its pension plan. It will put $250 million in cash and some income from annual payments toward the plan as part of a deal with the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., a federal agency that protects private pension plans.

 

The company said in its regulatory filing, however, that its agreement with the agency might stand in the way of more asset sales that would buy it more time.

 

Lampert has long pledged to return Sears to greatness, leveraging best-known brands like Kenmore and DieHard, as well as its vast holdings of land.

 

Those aspirations have been scrambled by a new consumer that has ripped up the decades-old playbook that the industry has relied upon for years.

 

There are also new and dynamic players that have also revolutionized the market, namely Amazon.com.

 

Sears has upped its presence online, but is having a hard time disguising its age. Stores are in need of a major redo.

 

Longtime rivals like Wal-Mart and Target are spending heavily to revitalize stores and they're intensely focused on a new consumer that goes online before stepping into a store.

 

Sears in January announced that it would close 10 percent of the 1,500 stores that are still operating.

 

In its most recent quarter, Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Illinois, just northwest of Chicago, lost $607 million. Revenue declined to $6.05 billion from $7.3 billion during the same period the year before.

 

 

It was the sixth consecutive quarter of losses. The company has not turned annual profit since 2011.

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(Jamaica Observer) Scotiabank has confirmed reports that it will cut Jamaican staff as part of its restructuring exercise, but says it is unable to state the exact number at this time.

The news comes at a time when the bank has been receiving heavy public critisim for the extent of some of its service charges.

Yesterday, president general of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), Kavan Gayle, indicated that close to 100 jobs would be made redundant by the Canadian bank. Reports are that the jobs are being transferred from Jamaica to Trinidad and Tobago.

According to Gayle, the workers to be affected in Jamaica are “support staff that deal with certain shared services right across the region”.

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