(Adds details about Baha Mar Ltd’s claims against China Construction)
By Tim McLaughlin
July 10 (Reuters) - The developer of the unfinished $3.5 billion Baha Mar mega resort in the Bahamas has accused China Construction America of cutting power to the work site, inflating expenses and trying to steal documents stuffed in suitcases, U.S. court filings show.
China Construction America, a unit of China State Construction Engineering Corp Ltd, denied the allegations, saying in a statement on Friday the developer is trying to deflect attention from its own mismanagement of the troubled project.
Baha Mar Ltd, the project’s developer, detailed its allegations in court filings on Thursday as part of its bankruptcy case. The developer’s filings also raised the prospect of fraud by the Chinese, saying money may have been spent on groceries and cosmetics.
“One possible explanation for at least some of these infiltrations is that CCA may have been utilizing false accounting practices to illegitimately enlarge its costs and expenses at the expense of Baha Mar and the project,” according to court filings on behalf of Baha Mar Ltd.
Baha Mar has been plagued by delays and ran out of money, forcing the developer to file for bankruptcy protection in a Delaware court on June 29. The project, which is to feature a Las Vegas-style casino and more than 2,000 hotel rooms, is being built by CCA and has been largely financed with a $2.45 billion loan from the Export Import Bank of China.
Baha Mar Ltd executives claim CCA cut power to the resort the day after the bankruptcy filing, court records show. Then, the developer and the construction firm haggled over restoring power and allowing CCA to retrieve the passport of Tiger Wu, CCA’s executive vice president.
Tony Whiddon, Baha Mar’s senior vice president of intelligence and campus security, said in a court declaration that CCA workers have tried to remove documents and computers from the project.
“For instance, I was advised that ... on June 30 ... a female CCA employee was observed trying to remove documents by placing them under her clothing,” Whiddon said. He also said earlier this week he observed 20 or CCA workers blocking a truck delivering food to other workers.
“Baha Mar Ltd continues to spread false and misleading allegations in an effort to deflect attention away from its mismanagement of the Baha Mar resort project,” CCA said in its statement. (Reporting By Tim McLaughlin; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Christian Plumb)