Ritz subcontractors refute report

Several subcontractors on the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman project are denying reports printed in Cayman Net News on 14 April that stated they are owned large sums of money by the resort’s developer.

The contents of the article, which ran under the headline ‘Ritz-Carlton developer owes $10m to subcontractors’ were also denied by project developer Michael Ryan.

According to the article, the local business Brent Greene’s Landscaping is owed $59,743.

‘What’s in the paper is wrong,’ Mr. Greene said. ‘They paid me off a long time ago and have been paying me every since. I have no problems with them.’

Mr. Greene said the amount referred to in Cayman Net News was what was owed to him at the time Fluor Daniel (Caribbean) Ltd. left the project site 4 March, 2004.

Since that time, Mr. Greene confirmed, he has remained working on site and has collected more than $1 million in payments from the Ritz-Carlton Developer.

‘I’ve been doing a lot of work for them,’ he said. ‘They don’t owe me any money except for what I’ll be giving them an invoice for at the end of the month.’

The Cayman Net News article stated the Ritz-Carlton owes K.Coast Development $29,596.

‘The Ritz-Carlton developer does not owe me any money,’ said K.Coast owner Gilles Langlois.

The sum, however, is owed to him by Fluor Daniel, something that company has acknowledged and agreed to repay, Mr. Langlois said.

The sum in question was a standard retention that is normally not paid for one year, Mr. Langlois said, adding that retention amounts are often difficult for Cayman Islands contractors to collect on a timely basis.

Another local contractor Cayman Net News stated was owed money by the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman developer was Watler’s Metal Products.

‘The only money they owe is retention money that’s not due to me yet,’ said the company’s Bob Watler, adding that the retention amount is considerably less than what was stated in the Cayman Net News article.

Mr. Watler confirmed that he just signed a new $567,000 contract last month to do the remedial roof repairs on the Ritz-Carlton project.

‘I have no problems with them,’ he said. ‘They pay my invoices on time.’

The Cayman Net News article said PWS/Borden Cayman Joint Venture was owed $300,505.

‘The contractual monies reported to be owed by the other newspaper are false,’ said the company’s project manager Danny Walsh.

‘When Fluor Daniel moved, we came to terms with the Ritz-Carlton and they settled their debts with us,’ he said. ‘Currently, there are some monies outstanding, but we are working with (Stingray Construction commercial director) Jim Miller to resolve those issues.’

Mr. Miller said the outstanding monies owed to PWS/Borden had to do with a disputed insurance adjustment claim.

‘Everybody’s having these kinds of problems with insurance adjusters,’ he said.

Mr. Walsh said his company was still working on the job site.

Two other subcontractors said to be owed money by the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman developer provided written statements clarifying the situation.

McGilvray/CBS Joint Venture’s Director Michael McGilvray said the $1.68 million owed to his company is only for unpaid retention from Fluor Daniel.

‘It is our understanding that with the assumption of our subcontract, Humphrey’s Cayman assumed responsibility for the payment of this retention,’ he wrote.

Stingray’s Jim Miller confirmed that Humphrey’s has in fact assumed responsibility for McGilvray’s retention.

Joseph Gabel, a director of the D.R.G./R.W. Joint Venture, said to be owed $613,656 by Cayman Net News, said the only monies owed to them were current invoices and retention.

‘To date, Michael Ryan and the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman project have honoured their obligations in accordance to the basic terms of our contract,’ he wrote. ‘We remain committed to a successful completion of this project.’

Stingray Construction’s Jim Miller said the figures listed in Cayman Net News were amounts owed to subcontractors at the time Fluor Daniel left the site.

He said the figures were incorrect in the court filings to which Cayman Net News makes reference.

‘Fluor Daniel has done a very poor job of identifying outstanding payables as of January 18, 2005,’ Mr. Miller said. ‘If they had done a little homework, they would have learned that many of those contractors had been paid by ownership.’

Mr. Ryan said no reporter from Cayman Net News called his offices to try to verify the amounts were owed either.

‘That is the one thing I have found appalling,’ said Mr. Ryan. ‘If (Cayman Net News) had bothered to contact us, I could have provided letters from all the subcontractors saying they are paid up and happy.

‘Why would these contractors still work on the job months later if they were not being paid?’ he asked. ‘These are large construction companies we are using for the work, and they would not be here if they did not believe in us and they would not be here if they were not getting paid.’

For its part, Cayman Net News responded to questions by saying it did speak to ‘a number of contractors’ but that it was not willing to say to which ones, at the contractors’ requests.

Mr. Ryan said he thinks the recent newspaper campaign against him and his development company is partially related to politics.

He also thinks it has to do with his no longer advertising in Cayman Net News.

‘I helped (Cayman Net News publisher Desmond Seales) financially get started, and until a few years ago, supported him constantly,’ Mr. Ryan said.

‘But I had to look at how best to reach the market for potential clients… and had to cut back my support (of Cayman Net News). From that day forward, I have been a target.’

Mr. Ryan said the newspaper attacks have cost him some sales, and wasted valuable time and resources.

He called some of the attacks ‘malicious’.

‘An example of how silly and perverse (Cayman Net News) is, was the headline ‘Ritz-Carlton Developer to Surrender’.

‘That caused people to think I was a criminal. However, it was a standard order of discovery that the judge issued to both sides to simply surrender documents. Both sides traded documents. It was normal discovery activity that happens all the time.

‘How could any responsible journalist create such a huge headline out of a simple discovery order? They wouldn’t. Only someone with a malicious agenda does that,’ he said.

Mr. Ryan said the recent newspaper attention was a minor inconvenience.

‘This is a fly on the back of an elephant,’ he said. ‘This is a $1 billion project and the first $500 million is already here.

‘Successful people are joining with us and we are months away from opening.

‘If someone wants to sit there at the side of the road and throw stones, who cares?’