By Ed Attwood
Owners at stalled development push for refunds through National Dialogue players
Investors at the troubled Marina West housing project in Bahrain are continuing to push for refunds from the developer via two parties taking part in the country’s National Dialogue.
In addition, a formal complaint has been filed with the police against the developer, AAJ Holdings, over the misappropriation of funds worth $151m.
Work on the project, which is based in Budaiya Village and consists of 10 residential towers and a five-star hotel, was halted in March last year due to a lack of funds. As a result, the Marina West Owners Association was set up, and has threatened to pursue lawsuits against the developer.
According to one member of the association, Dr Sheikh Abdullatif Al Mahmood, chairman of the National Unity Assembly, and Steve Sutton, the British Club representative for expatriate interests in the National Dialogue, had both been lobbied over the issue.
“Rumours continue to circulate regarding additional funding and even Government intervention both of which we buyers have heard previously on too numerous occasions; however they appear to be spread only in attempt to placate buyers and give the Marina West shareholders even more leeway,” the investor told Arabian Business.
“Audited accounts and annual submissions to the Ministry records have obviously been filed away without anyone bothering to undertake a thorough investigation of a project that ceased work back in March 2010.”
The crux of the owners’ complaints are the allegations that AAJ Holdings has received over $151m from buyers, and has spent only $48m on onsite building. Furthermore, owners also alleged that the developers “continue to demand unrealistic terms from any potential financiers, while holding on to an excess of off-plan buyers’ funds”.
In May last year, Marina West’s chief executive, Mahmood Janahi, said that he was determined to complete the project, and that negotiations were under way with a series of potential investors to add “fresh impetus” to the residential site.
However, work onsite has still not begun, despite promises to restart construction in January this year.
Calls made by Arabian Business to the Marina West office went unanswered.
It would be wise of the Bahraini government to step in at Marina West as if this case blossoms into an internationally undignified play out, it will be extremely bad for the country's reputation on top of the bad publicity to date.