No foul play in selling of Alotau hotel: Sir John


MILNE Bay Governor Sir John Luke Crittin says there was no foul play involved in the sale of former Alotau International Hotel.
Sir John said the provincial government had made every effort to protect the shares and its interest in the hotel through its business arm, the Milne Bay Property Ltd, which held a 23 per cent stake in Alotau International Hotel Company.
The new owner of the hotel is a locally-owned real estate company, Yumi Yet Real Estate Ltd. Former governor Titus Philemon earlier this month called for an investigation into the sale of the hotel claiming the deal was suspicious and could have been orchestrated by individuals driven by “self-interest, greed and lack of vision for the future of the province”.
Philemon raised questions of the sale of the hotel and questioned how the provincial government’s shares were sold.
“The sale of one of Alotau’s icons, the Alotau International Hotel, to a private interest is a major farce and slap in the face of the people of Milne Bay province,” Philemon said.
However, Sir John maintained that there was no foul play or corruption in the sale.
“I did not at any time personally benefit from this transaction, as alluded to by former governor,” he said.
Sir John said the major shareholder had made the decision to sell the hotel as was its right.
He said the main reason was an economic one as the hotel was struggling to make a profit and sustain its operations.
He said additionally the province’s publicised law and order issues and the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic on tourism, which Milne Bay derives a significant amount of revenue from had also contributed to the decision to sell.
“These had a major impact on the ability of the Alotau International to keep afloat and keep paying dividends to its shareholders,” Sir John said.