|Money said to
come from U.S. and not Chinese
Casinos dominate plan for solar farm in
By Michael Krumholtz
and Lou Kilzer
of the A.M. Costa Rica
A massive Guanacaste solar energy project, involving Frank Biden, the
brother of the U.S. vice president and promoted as being a green
development, will be anchored by three casinos that would take most of
A.M. Costa Rica has also learned that developers planned to finance
that vast majority of the near-billion-dollar project with Chinese
money — plans that they say recently changed.
Until now, the development had been promoted mostly as an elite
residential project with a Jack Nicklaus-designed golf course and a
solar-powered energy farm. However, the actual budget allocates 72
percent to hotels and casinos, according to a Web page published by the
developer, Sun Fund Americas.
Majority funding for the massive development touting hotel casinos, a
country club, and a solar farm was once slated to come from a Chinese
construction firm but is now expected from a U.S. casino developer,
said Sun Fund President Craig S. Williamson Tuesday.
Williamson and his partner, Biden, head the operation that has remained
largely stuck in neutral since its 2009 unveiling. Now funding is
supposed to be spearheaded by Delta Blues Holdings LLC and its CEO
“Preiser has $400 million to invest and a $400 million matching line of
credit,” said Williamson in a phone interview Tuesday.
Sun Fund’s affiliated Web sites – listed under the names Guanacaste
Country Club, Sun Fund Americas, and Virtus One – have been erratic in
operation and this week were not functioning. Williamson said his Web
sites are currently undergoing redesign in anticipation of a synced
Plans available as recently as last week in a Q&A on the Virtus One
Web site detailed that up to 85 percent of the estimated $921 million
budget for the Guanacaste Country Club was expected to come from
Beijing Construction Engineering Co. Williamson said that developers
have since moved on from the Chinese backing.
“Maybe in another country, but not in Costa Rica,” he said Tuesday
evening of involvements with the Chinese firm. “For the template of
this project model, we want this to be all U.S.-sponsored.”
This change marks a removal of nearly $750 million from the project.
Figures taken from the Web site show that hotels and three casinos were
to receive nearly five times more investment funds than the country
club or solar farm.
Officials from Beijing Construction Engineering Co. have ties with the
world’s largest bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China,
according to a March report from China Daily.
Beijing has historically
limited its gambling investments to the domestic Macau area, which has
fallen under notoriety for its penchant in attracting money laundering
hidden from the nation’s tight currency controls.
The familiar name
The amount of real estate development
This is the famous photo
issued Dec. 17, 2009, that shows golf great Jack Nicklaus and Frank
Biden signing a deal for a golf course design.
experience that Biden has is
still uncertain. Records show he was licensed to sell real estate in
Florida in 2000. Though the license expired in 2004, it is still listed
According to an Accurint report provided by the
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Biden filed for bankruptcy in 1994 and faced
a Delaware state tax lien in 1997 for the sum of $61,528. Tax problems
followed him into later years and in 2009 he was slapped with another
lien for $32,500.
Biden has been active in involving the American Association of Retired
Persons to gain member interest in the development, according to
Williamson. He was also responsible for reaching an agreement in 2009
with Nicklaus Design in securing a Jack Nicklaus signature golf course.
Last month a representative from Nicklaus Design said the company was
still waiting on the funding before it began course construction.
Vice President Biden is no stranger to casinos. Last June, Mike Godfrey
of Tax-News reported that the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda met
directly with Joe Biden in his Washington, D.C. office last May to
specifically discuss an online gambling dispute between the United
States and the Caribbean islands. The vice president's son at one time
lobbied for casino interests.
Williamson said last month that no lots or properties have been sold on
the land because directors are waiting to amp up marketing in the
coming weeks. Information for pre-development packages had been listed
on Guanacaste Country Club Web site.
Although the Web sites still are down, there is a Guanacaste Country
Club Facebook Page.
Preiser began in the gaming industry in the 80s and has been heavily
involved with the casino industry in Mississippi since Delta Blue’s
founding 2003. However, news reports say that some of the casino
projects have never taken off.
A powerpoint made by Delta Blues for presentation to Sun Fund
representatives promises the creation of 1,185 direct jobs and nearly
10,000 indirect jobs as a result of the Guanacaste project. Preiser
said he has been working with Williamson and Biden on this plan for the
past several months.
“Delta is responsible for master planning and co-development for a
commercial and support development,” said Preiser via email.
Guanacaste is the nation’s least populated province with 327,000
residents, according to the 2011 census.
About 63,000 live in Liberia
some 10 minutes from the project. Liberia has an international airport.
Williamson and Biden, who have been friends of 15 years according to
Biden, were formerly a part of ERA Real Estate in Latin America.
homes are a big temptation for crooks
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Semana Santa and the Christmas season usually show an increase n home
burglaries because many metro area dwellers head for the beaches or
mountains. The crimes frequently are not discovered until the
By the time the homeowner reports the crime the stolen merchandise is
well on its way to the pawn show or the flea market.
|There is an
axiom in Costa Rica that the most modern digital television
sets and the most elaborate sound systems can be found in the homes of
the lower classes.
These residents can get the equipment cheap because
the neighbor is a house burglar.
Security experts suggest whole house alarm systems or that a trusted
friend stay in the home over these holidays.
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