85 F
Cruz Bay
Wednesday, September 28, 2022


The engineering firm that provided services to V.I. companies owned by Malaysian businessman Tan Kay Hock has filed suit in District Court to recover $371,146 due from a firm under Tan's umbrella of Johan Holdings Berhad.
Tan bought the derelict Yacht Haven Hotel in Long Bay, St. Thomas, in 1998 and proposed a major hotel and marina development on the existing property and adjacent landfill.
Dames & Moore Inc., an international engineering and consulting firm headquartered in Los Angeles, Ca., was hired to design and obtain permitting for improvements to Yacht Haven Hotel and Marina adjacent to the West Indian Co. Ltd. docks.
Dames and Moore was also contracted to provide similar services to Tan for his Asian Village in Antigua — a $600 million project, according to D&M. The firm said it still is owed about $400,000 on work done on that project.
Progress on both projects has stopped and no one seems to know the status of either.
In the suit filed in May, Dames & Moore alleged that Tan set up six additional companies in order to "acquire and develop the Asian Village St. Thomas property without properly recognizing the rights of, or honoring its obligations to, third parties," including D& M and leaseholders on the property.
By utilizing one company that Johan Holdings controlled to purchase the property and another to acquire the mortgage from the bank, Johan Holdings planned to foreclose on the property in order to force the tenants out, according to the suit.
The suit makes reference to a letter written by St. Croix attorney Joel Holt to Johan Holdings, presenting a plan to set up the various companies to implement a foreclosure and to force the sale of property within the development that was owned by individuals from Puerto Rico.
According to a St. Thomas attorney who asked not to be named, the plan was not illegal or even unusual in such matters.
Informed sources in Antigua say no work has been done on Tan's project there for at least two months.
The Yacht Haven property, which Tan's companies purchased from ScotiaBank, has stood empty since the purchase early last year. Some of its tenants derisively call it "hotel Beirut."
The proposed Yacht Haven project was to include a luxury hotel, condominiums, retail stores and a "hurricane-proof" marina with 700 slips. The project, known as Asian Village, would, upon completion, employ 2,000 people, according to Ian Peacocke, Tan's spokesman.
WICO spokesman Calvin Wheatley told St. Thomas Source that there is "really nothing new" on the project. Tan and WICO have been at a stalemate since late last year when, following Gov. Roy L. Schneider's defeat in the general election, some of Schneider's appointees publicly urged WICO to accommodate Tan's plans and WICO blasted back, saying Tan had never negotiated in good faith but rather attempted to force WICO to accept a grandiose plan that was not in the public's best interest.
According to the Dames and Moore suit, the companies set up under Johan Holdings are:
— Asian Village, a British Virgin Islands company set up to acquire and develop Johan Holdings' Asian Village projects in St. Thomas and Antigua.
— Mega Holdings, a U.S. Virgin Islands corporation that purports to own the buildings and improvements erected on parcels 4 and 4C Estate Thomas.
— Equity Holdings, a U.S.V.I. corporation that purports to own a 70 percent undivided interest in Parcels 4D, 4E and 5B Estate Thomas
— Safe Haven, a U.S.V.I. corporation that purportedly owns a 5 percent undivided interest in parcels 4D, 4E and 5B Estate Thomas.
— Safe Haven Marina, a U.S. V.I. corporation that purportedly owns Yacht Haven Marina, Coastal Zone Management permit CZT-131-84L and the marina facilities located seaward of Parcels 4 and 4C of Estate Thomas.
— Land Holdings, an Isle of Man corporation, which purportedly owns a mortgage that Land Holdings claims is a first priority lien on Parcels 4 and 4C Estate Thomas.
Watts & Benham are listed as the attorneys for Dames & Moore.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Keeping our community informed is our top priority.
If you have a news tip to share, please call or text us at 340-228-8784.

Support local + independent journalism in the U.S. Virgin Islands

Unlike many news organizations, we haven't put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as accessible as we can. Our independent journalism costs time, money and hard work to keep you informed, but we do it because we believe that it matters. We know that informed communities are empowered ones. If you appreciate our reporting and want to help make our future more secure, please consider donating.