PHILIPSBURG--A first hearing in a new court case on the merits of the disputed Pelican Resort auction was postponed Thursday due to one of the attorneys being unavailable for medical reasons.
The latest case started in March, 2013, when Curaçao lawyer Gerrit van Giffen, representing the former owners of the Pelican Resort, now the Simpson Bay Resort challenged the legality of the auction of the Pelican Resort, which took place on December 16, 2010.
The auction was called after the owners of the resort fell behind with their mortgage payments and the lender, Quantum Investment Trust (QIT), auctioned off the resort in a public auction on which the lender submitted the winning bid and became the owner of the resort, after which QIT transferred ownership to Simpson Bay Resort, an affiliated company.
Transfer of ownership took place on January 26, 2011 by notary Henry Parisius, who is now retired and who, at the time, signed a document which read "I, civil law notary in whose presence the auction was held hereby declare that Buyer in the auction has paid the aforementioned purchase price on this date and that Buyer has complied with all other obligations deriving from the General and Special Conditions of the Auction."
The new court case revolves around the question whether all obligations deriving from the general and special conditions of the auction were indeed complied with. Van Giffen states that the purchase price of US $30,500.-- was never transferred to the notary. This is against the law applicable at the time, which states that a transfer of funds in this case must have gone through the notary. QIT is alleged to have written off the debt of the previous owners in lieu of payment when they took over the property.
There is also no proof of the existence of a document (Verklaring van Waardeloosheid) to show that the mortgage has been voided after the transfer of the property.
Van Giffen further states that other obligations from the general and special conditions of the auction were not met, and states that QIT was not acting with honest intentions at the time of the purchase.
The amount raised at auction was exceptionally low. The claimants state that this was the result of the fact that very little publicity was used to announce the auction, and that the advertisements placed were unclear, in that they did not state the fact that it was the entire resort that was for sale, resulting in very few interested parties attending. The claimants also accuse QIT of working together with the resort manager to create a financial situation that placed the former owners in a position that they could not afford a fee that was legally enforceable, resulting in the sale of the property.
The claimants believe that as a result of the conditions having been breached, and particularly the money transfer never taking place, the result of the auction should be declared null and void and leading to a dispute about the ownership of the resort. The case is supposed to continue in either the second or the third week of May.
Meanwhile, The Daily Herald understands that QIT have proposed an out of court settlement.