A SECOND company operating in Saint Lucia is reporting itself to be a victim of ‘Fake News’.
Last week it was the Water and Sewage Company (WASCO) that took to the airwaves and social media to deny rate band tariff increases announced by an unauthorized and unidentified body.
This time it is Range Development, which is involved in development projects in Saint Kitts and Nevis and Dominica.
A news item started making the rounds on Sunday evening purportedly reporting the arrest of a Caribbean developer in China. The item was headlined ‘Caribbean Real Estate Investor Detained in China’ claimed that Mr Mohammed Asaria, Range’s top man was in police custody in china.
But yesterday, a press release was issued by Range development in which it described the item as ‘Fake News”.
According to the Range development statement, “Last night (Sunday night) fake news began to emerge from Montserrat and St Lucia concerning Mohammed Asaria, the founder of Range Developments, which developed the Park Hyatt in Saint Kitts and Nevis and is building the Cabrits Resort, Kempinski and the Six Senses St Kitts.”
The statement said, “There is no truth whatsoever in these allegations that Mr Mohammed Asaria had been arrested and detained in China.”
It explained that “Mr Asaria is actually in Geneva, Switzerland, presenting at the Investment Migration Council’s conference.”
“It is obvious,” the statement said, “that the purpose of these articles is solely to damage Mr. Asaria’s and Range’s reputation among investors.”
The statement said too that “the company’s lawyers are insisting on an immediate retraction and the highest possible damages.”
“I wouldn’t like to speculate who is making these ridiculous allegations or what their purpose is,” said Mr Asaria.
“They have no foundation whatsoever. Our focus is on the completion of the Cabrits Resort Kempinski, Dominica and the Six Senses St. Kitts, which is proceeding at pace and as planned,” the statement added.
The allegation first surfaced on a website called MNI Alive: Global Caribbean Media and had been picked up by other media in the Caribbean and beyond.
However, the range statement acknowledged that Mr Asaria was in China and had been the target of protests.
“While speaking at a conference in China last week,” the statement said, “Mr Asaria was targeted by a number of protesters.”
It said, however, that “When he sat down to listen to their grievances, it turned out they were baseless and rebutted by Range immediately with evidence, and the protestors had just been paid to make trouble.”
“It seems this is one of the challenges of being a successful developer,” said Mr Asaria.
But, he concluded, “I won’t let this distract from our efforts to build world-class projects in the Caribbean.”