Potential: An artist’s impression of how Morgan’s Point might look. *Photo supplied
Potential: An artist’s impression of how Morgan’s Point might look. *Photo supplied

Speculation that a financial guarantee for the developers of a $2 billion new resort at Morgan’s Point was prompted because one of the major figures involved is chairman of Government’s SAGE Commission have been dismissed.

Finance Minister Bob Richards, who approved the “letter of comfort” designed to help the developers, Morgan’s Point Ltd, negotiate financial backing said: “Some people have put two and two together and made five.”

The developers hit problems raising cash because the former US Navy property is polluted with oil and other contaminants, causing potential backers to shy away. One of the major figures in Morgan’s Point Ltd is Brian Duperreault , who was appointed by Mr Richards to chair the Commission, which is to recommend ways of cutting the cost of running Government.

But Mr Richards said the 2012 land swap deal struck under a PLP Government that saw the pristine Southlands estate in Warwick exchanged for the polluted former US Naval Annex base “was not in any way workable”.

Mr Richards said: “The fact is that Morgan’s Point and their issues with the Government predate the OBA Government by years.

“The Government couldn’t fulfil its obligations and Morgan’s Point could fulfil their obligations. The problems with pollution were known since the 1990s when the overseas military pulled out. We have to do something about the pollution up there because no financier is going to lend money or finance money at a polluted site.

“That’s why Government has now had to step in and contemplate some sort of assistance to get that started — it’s only because the former Government did nothing about the pollution for 14 years. There are people working at Morgan’s Point right now trying to remediate that site.”

Government has given a non-binding “letter of comfort” to the developers, with a guarantee which will not exceed $125 million, to help their negotiations with financiers.

Mr Richards added that it was “vital” for Bermuda to get prestige new developments up and running and that the Sandys former USN base was “virtually the last major open space which can be developed”.

He added: “Any correlation between that and the SAGE Commission is spurious.”