NWC sues hotel operators to recover $3.3 million

THE National Water Commission (NWC) has filed a suit against Cameleon Hotel Management, operators of Sea Castles in Montego Bay, for the recovery of more than $3.3 million the NWC said it is owed as at August 29, 2001.

The NWC, in a statement yesterday, said the suit was filed after several attempts were made by the commission to recover the money. It said that following a lawsuit last year, Cameleon approached the NWC with a proposed settlement plan, which was accepted after intensive negotiations.

“The settlement required Cameleon Hotel Management to accept liability for the full amount of $3,347,823.56 and to settle same with immediate payment of $2,000,000 and balance over four months. Subsequent to this formal arrangement, Cameleon made a lump sum payment of $800,000 and a further payment totalling $1,188,000 on December 21, 2001 by two cheques, one for $551,000 and another for $637,000. Both cheques were returned to the NWC marked `refer to drawer`,” said the water commission.
However, Cameleon said yesterday that they were not liable for the debt. They argued that the bill was from 1999, while they took over the operations of Sea Castles in October 2000.

“First of all, the hotel does not owe $3.3 million. It is the Urban Development Corporation which owes this amount, not the hotel,” said Antonio Sabate, the general manager of Sea Castles. “The $3 million something, it`s outstanding from the former management (the UDC) and the bills are sent to the hotel in the UDC`s name.”

He added: “But to keep the hotel open, we need water and the National Water Commission wants somebody to pay the bill because there is a hotel management inside the property. But even they don`t charge us because they still send the bill under the name UDC but we try to pay the water bill because we cannot have a hotel without water.”
He also took issue with the amount, saying that it was not $3.3 million but $3.042 million.