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Feb 21, 2008

Coye defends subdivision against alleged irregularities

Story PictureAmong the transactions specifically cited and placed under official caution were those involving a subdivision in the affluent Caribbean Shores constituency that was spearheaded by the then area representative Joe Coye. Today Coye reacted to the aspersions cast on his project, calling it the “continuation of a malicious and vindictive political attack”. He explained to News Five’s Stewart Krohn that following a successful government project in 1998 to develop University Heights, an adjoining ten acres, formerly owned by U.B., became available. Government subdivided the swampland into fifty-seven lots but declined to invest the millions it would take to put in the fill and infrastructure. That’s when Coye the politician became Coye the developer.

Jose Coye, Former Area Rep., Caribbean Shores
“I came in simple as the area representative who felt indeed that I could find a way to provide lots for people in this division at a reasonable cost. What we did simply Stewart, is that if you look at the inputs into this development, it’s not a developer as such that was involved, which obvious, every developer has a right to profits and their investment. But we try to keep out that by just have a enterprise—CHEOP Enterprise—who is not a big time company as such but has the engineering skill and they did the engineering costing, and what they did, they managed the project.”

Stewart Krohn
“Who is they now? Who…”

Jose Coye
“The company CHEOP Enterprise, Colwin Flowers, who is the head of CHEOP Enterprise, the engineer.

Stewart Krohn
“Isn’t Colwin Flowers or wasn’t Colwin Flowers a government employee in the Ministry of Works?”

Jose Coye
“He was and a matter fact at the time when he was doing this project when we first started it, he was not employed by the government. He was outside on his own and then government contracted him and he is there now but he will continue to supervise because much of it was already done in terms of the costing of the project and all you had to do now was to ensure compliance. So it was just a fee to be charged for those kinda of work and then the civil works which is being done Peter Teigrob, a Mennonite company, and they are the ones who are doing the civil works and they charge for that also. So you had the civil works side being done and the infrastructure, you had the Enterprise that was managing the project in the sense and do the engineering costing. And then the financing was to come from the people who are buying the lots and what we did then and I say—these were my ideas—I gave them the financial idea how it would be done. You don’t have to go and borrow the money unless there is an outflow that would outstrip the inflow from the sale. So what they did is that if make a deposit, if it’s a fifty percent deposit, fine that goes in and the title would be applied for and the title goes direct to the depositor. The company holds the title in the name of the developers, an equitable mortgage and when the balance is paid he gets the title. If you deposit the full amount then you get the title direct when you get it.”

Stewart Krohn
“We’re missing a few links here Mr. Coye. Let’s go back to where government owns the fifty-seven lots, okay. You have a development company owned or controlled by Colwin Flowers, the idea comes from Joe Coye and you have a contractor Mr. Teigrob. Now, let’s talk about transparency a little bit. Who signed off on this deal for government, how did this deal get done?”

Jose Coye
“What I did as the area representative, I did meet with the Minister of Lands where the price was agreed on as to what each lot would be sold for and as to who will determine to who the lots would be sold because of the way the project was being done. It’s not like the ten acres that were being sold to the company the lot, each lot would be sold to the person who wanted to buy a lot.”

Stewart Krohn
“Okay, and the pricing on those lots, government set the pricing?”

Jose Coye
“That’s right. The lots were set a four thousand as they were; undeveloped, no access, no road, no electricity, nothing. And that was the price for those lots, four thousand which amounted to about two hundred and thirty thousand for the ten acres overall.”

Stewart Krohn
“So when you get a buyer, the buyer pays you some money, you pay government four thousand and then the rest of the money goes toward the infrastructure?”

Jose Coye
“Right, That’s right. That’s exactly what it is. The rest goes toward the development.”

Coye said that when the cash outflows exceeded the payments collected, the development company took title to the unsold lots in order to borrow against them.

Stewart Krohn
“Who were the principals of the company?”

Jose Coye
“Mr. Flowers is the principal of the company.”

Stewart Krohn
“Hundred percent, he is the owner of the company.”

Jose Coye
“Private companies, sometimes it’s two persons so I guess it’s him and some member, it’s a family company.”

Stewart Krohn
“Does Joe Coye have any financial interest whatsoever in this development?”

Jose Coye
“Only interest I would say Stewart, and I did mention this more than once, is that Coye and Associates, the accounting firm, was the accountant for the project and still is the accountant. That was the other group that came in as the accountant; Coye and Associates. And then there were four lots or five that was put in the name of Aquaworld, a company yes, owned by my family that we do do work investment in the Placencia area. This is the extended family, I must say. And what I must say in this is that when the project started, they wanted to begin but there were not enough people who were in to begin to put money into the company for the development. It was then those titles that were being leaked out and shown around as if though I Joe Coye got sixty-one lots for four thousand dollars. So what they did, they leaked out a letter where the minister signed, left out the word each and put that the lots were sold collectively for four thousand dollars, not saying each. And I’m putting this in Stewart, because you asked me about my involvement. And then they took a copy of the Aquaworld title. Now Aquaworld put the money because Aquaworld could have borrowed from the bank to buy five lots to start the project but also had titles in its name to protect itself and at the same time the company had money to start with. And that was how they started the project and shortly as the project started and people heard about it, they begin to come in and begin to buy the lots.”

Stewart Krohn
“How many lots out of the fifty-seven were actually sold and title given out to the buyer?”

Jose Coye
“Stewart my recollection is it would be about, I would say it’s about thirty-five, thirty to thirty-five because there’s a total of fifty-seven lots.”

Stewart Krohn
“Okay, so lets say the remaining twenty, twenty-five, thirty lots, those are in whose name right now?”

Jose Coye
“Those are in the company name, CHEOP Enterprise. Once the lots that were left were not deposited on, then the company having to take the risk thereafter would have to go to the bank to borrow the money to continue the development until when they can catch up again with sales.”

Stewart Krohn
“Mr. Coye, assuming that the account you’re giving is a full and accurate account; would you say this somewhat unorthodox development style is a good and viable model as a way to develop neighbourhoods around the country?”

Jose Coye
“Stewart, I would say this that if we believe that we will depend on government to do all the development in this country, particularly when it comes to land development, then to me fine if that is a policy and that is what the people want then let all the private sector leave development alone, get out of the development of land in this country and leave it to the government. Obviously, to me that would not be the right way to go. If you cannot bring the entrepreneur spirit into the government to get things done where obviously, if you can get it done in a way to bring down cost to the consumer in this case the first time owners for lots, then to me I see absolutely nothing wrong with it if you wan to do it this way.”

Coye maintains that upon completion the project will hopefully break even financially. Meanwhile, he has engaged legal representation to fight the cautions placed on the titles. As could be seen from the interview, work continues on filling and road construction.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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