October 17, 2007

UTOF wants its Momi money back

Tuesday October 16, 2007 -www.fijitimes.com

A winding up notice has been sent to Muanirewa Resort Ltd, the company linked to the Momi Bay developers Matapo Ltd, after it defaulted on a $12 million loan repayment to the Unit Trust of Fiji.

“We have had meetings, and promises have been made and not honoured. At the moment we are commencing our legal process to recover the money because there is no concrete evidence that they have got money to pay,” Unit Trust lawyer Sosefo Inoke says.

He said the company has been given 21 days to pay up.

Muainirewa was to have paid the loan back to Unit Trust by September 30 but the deadline was extended to October 10, but no money was forthcoming.

Inoke says there is no indication as to when the money would be paid.

For its part, Matapo Ltd says it would make a statement when the issue is resolved.

Inoke says this is money owed to the small investors whose savings are invested with the Unit Trust of Fiji.

“They are not rich people ... they are ordinary working people.”

He says investors come from overseas, take big loans and don’t pay it back. “We spend a lot of money trying to recover it.”

Late last month, Fiji's interim Government had said it would be requesting financial institution, the Fiji Development Bank to give a further $15 million to Matapo Limited in respect of the Momi Bay development project. (The multi million dollar project has been at a standstill since early this year due to lack of funds.)

However, Government said the funds were to be held in escrow until Matapo repaid all debts owed to the Unit Trust of Fiji, and Matapo sources $36 million from offshore which was required to develop the project.

It is unclear at this stage whether Matapo has been able to source the funds.

The project is divided into two phases. Stage 1 is owned and managed by Matapo Ltd and stage 2 by Muainarewa Resort Ltd.

Stage I of the project has to date been financed by $90m contributed by shareholders of Matapo Ltd together with funds provided by the FDB/FNPF syndicate approved total loan facility of $74m.

Unit Trust of Fiji provided a loan of $12m to Muainarewa Resorts Ltd for the purchase of 422 acres of land required for Stage II.

“At the end of the day, we want the money back and that is the normal commercial terms under the contract,” Inoke says.

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