casino with De Niro boosted by development bill -
30th November 2015
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billionaire James Packers plan to build a $US250
million ($347 million) Caribbean resort and casino
with his actor buddy Robert De Niro received a significant
boost after a new law was passed to help the development.
Antigua and Barbuda government pushed through the
Paradise Found Bill, despite opposition to the new
legislation. The bill seeks to expedite the development,
and also gives the high-profile business partners
a 25-year tax holiday.
Packer is backing De Niros plan to develop the
resort on the site of the K Club on the tiny island
of Barbuda, which was once Princess Dianas Caribbean
hideaway but has been abandoned for more than 11 years.
powerful business partners want to build a five-star
boutique hotel, a high-end eco-lodge,
a marina with jetties for superyachts, a casino and
an airport for executive jets.
Packers investment in the proposal is believed
to be through his private company Consolidated Press
Holdings rather than his casino empire, Crown Resorts.
has previously backed De Niro in other interests and
recently spent $100m of Crown Resorts money
to take a 20 per cent stake in the actors restaurant
and hotel company, Nobu.
is understood the celebrity investors spent $US13m
acquiring the K Club in Barbuda. It had also been
reported that the project owners provided an advance
payment of $US1.85m to the local council earlier this
payment was reportedly used to help clear a 20-week
wage backlog for 600 Barbuda Council workers.
198-year lease sought for the Paradise Found project
covers just under 160 hectares, after the developers
trimmed back the original 222ha plan.
agreement for the new resort also involves the proponents
of redirecting existing roads and restricting beach
access for ambulatory vendors.
are concerns that the new bill passed to progress
the development, which supersedes the Barbuda Land
Act, involves surrendering public possession of land
owned by the islands 1600 residents.
media reported that Senate Minority Leader Harold
Lovell was concerned about the bill, in particular
the absence of an acceptable performance clause, the
level of concessions and the 156ha of land being given
to Mr Packer and De Niro.
was reportedly also concerned about the waivers and
incentives given to the Australian billionaire and
American actor, noting that the project was void of
a clause assuring the employment of Barbudans.
Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda,
who had previously appointed De Niro a special
economic envoy, has been a strong supporter
of the project.
Browne said that the Paradise Found Bill was initiated
as the government considered the legislation necessary
to support a project that had been stymied by manoeuvrings
of persons in Barbuda.
said although detractors had lost a court
case attempting to stop the project, on a technicality
under the Barbuda Land Act, an appeal had been lodged
which was causing further delay to the development.
application of the Barbuda Land Act (BLA) has proved
not to be investor friendly, the Prime Minister