Both Range Developments and the Vanuatu government have issued statements reacting to unsubstantiated claims about them circulating over the weekend.
“It seems that we are a magnet for fake news,” said Mohammed Asaria, Founder and Board Member of Range Developments, the Caribbean CIP-market’s leading developer, in a Linkedin post on Friday. Referring to “spurious reports circulating in Grenada this morning” that had indicated the firm would be abandoning their Six Senses project in La Sagesse, which, Asaria said, had been “promoted by competing developers”, saw the builder compelled to make a statement assuring stakeholders the project remained very much on track.
“Six Senses and Range Developments remain fully committed to Grenada and the Six Senses Grenada. The project is on schedule to open as scheduled at the end of next year.”
Not mincing his words, Asaria indicated he believed spiteful competitors had deliberately disseminated the story, stating that, as the market leader, “we attract envy from our competition. In the last decade, I have seen all sorts of dirty tricks played against us, and such idle rumor mongering will not derail us – unfortunately par for the course from our competitors.”
“I am no stranger to the courts”
“I counsel all parties to focus on their own developments and mitigate the delays they are facing rather than circulate mistruths,” said Asaria, who also issued a stark warning of legal action to those he considered culpable.
“I am no stranger to the courts and have successfully sued many individuals who have circulated fake news about myself and my organization previously. We will take all steps to protect our market-leading position.”
It is far from the first time that Asaria and his firm have been the targets of easily falsifiable misinformation campaigns. In June 2018, another Caribbean news outlet published a story claiming Mr. Asaria was under arrest in China over charges of “illegal fundraising”. In reality, Asaria was in Geneva (as was your reporter) attending the Investment Migration Forum. A year ago, another story printed in a Caribbean paper falsely alleged Range had been engaging in grave financial misconduct, as a result of which the company (successfully) sued the writers for defamation. On each occasion, Asaria has indicated he knows which specific competitors are behind the stories but has, so far, stopped short of naming them.
To dispel doubts about his project’s progress, Asaria says he has scheduled a live appearance on Grenada television on Tuesday at 7am local time, in which he will offer construction updates.
“Crude, speculative fabrication”
On the other side of the world, the sting of Caribbean slander was felt equally by Vanuatu, the target of another unsubstantiated claim, this time from a news outlet called “WIC News”. The website alleges that Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment programs are “set to suffer a major setback as the European Union and the United Kingdom have decided to place them out of the visa-waver heaven [sic], said officials of the RU and UK Middle East”.
The authors, who appeared not to be native English speakers, offered no named sources or direct quotations to support their assertions. Vanuatu’s Foreign Affairs Ministry has today released a statement in which it categorically dismisses the claim.
“The report is nothing more than a malicious attempt to discredit Vanuatu and the work the country is undertaking to manage and improve the structure of its highly successful Citizenship by Investment Program.”
Calling the article “materially and factually deficient”, the Ministry said it wished to “offer its assurances that the Government of Vanuatu is engaged in an active dialogue with the European Union to ensure mutual understandings are reached regarding the current and future management of [the program],” adding that restructuring its due diligence was a primary consideration.
The Ministry emphasized that it refuted “the entire article for the crude, speculative fabrication that it is,” adding also that the government reserved “the right to name and take legal action against” those behind the dissemination of falsehoods.
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