(Trinidad Guardian) Three weeks after a threat of foreclosure, two properties owned by Tobago businessman Ken Patino have been put up for sale.
There were newspaper advertisements this past weekend for Patino’s 175 square metre two-storey town house at St Lucien Road, Diego Martin, and his restaurant and bar at Shirvan Road, Buccoo. Persons interested in purchasing the properties have been asked to contact the bank’s credit manager at a PO box number to make offers.
An angry Patino yesterday told the T&T Guardian: “The bank advertising our property for sale under foreclosure for some delinquency in mortgage payments. This is both distressful and sad since I felt that the bank was holding back on such an action until the Bankers’ Association meets with the Tobago Chamber at the end of September to discuss these and other issues.”
Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association president Chris James last week told the Joint Select Committee meeting on Land and Rural Development in Tobago that they are meeting with the Bankers Association on September 20. He expressed concern that 18 businesses in Tobago are facing foreclosure.
Patino yesterday lamented that since Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley met with Tobago stakeholders on August 21 to discuss the sea bridge fiasco and no solution was found, banks had been calling business owners “demanding their monies and unveiled numerous threats to them to face foreclosures on their properties because of delinquency in their mortgage payments.”
His business, Enchanted Waters Hotel and Patino’s Restaurant and Bar at Shirvan Road, was among those affected.
He said on August 22, he received two calls from the bank and was told the Diego Martin and Shirvan Road properties would be advertised for sale on August 26 “but the advertisement was not done until this weekend.”
He said what was curious was that when the bank officer called he was told they would withdraw $72,000 from his bank account to cover two payments on each of the two mortgages.
This was deducted by the bank on August 23. Patino said since then he was “never contacted by phone or in writing” and was shocked a decision was “unilaterally made” to put the properties for sale.
The bank, he said, was also told he planned to sell another of his properties to raise money to pay off the mortgage, but it appeared they did not want to wait. Patino still hopes Government will intervene to help businesses in this predicament.
“I remain hopeful that the Government would do their part in providing relief to all of us in furtherance of our survival and more importantly the enhancement and growth of tourism in Tobago and Trinidad.”
Efforts to contact bank officials were unsuccessful. But one banker told the T&T Guardian that Tobago’s situation is unique because of the sea bridge fiasco and banks need to “work with their customers in this very difficult time.”
The T&T Guardian was also unable to reach Tobago House of Assembly Secretary of Finance and the Economy Joel Jack, who had promised to raise the business community’s concern with the banks and Finance Minister Colm Imbert.
Kariwak Hotel owner Allan Clovis, who has been in business for more than 35 years, said Government should consider setting up a relief fund and assisting affected businesses on a case-by-case basis.