Published On: Sun, Oct 1st, 2023

Carbon’s duped clients to hold town hall meeting; seeking justice

A report from our Correspondent

COLE BAY — Duped investors of Carbon Grove Residences in Cole Bay are planning a town hall meeting on Thursday, October 5, at a later to be disclosed location in Simpson Bay. After creating a WhatsApp discussion group, dozens of clients of Carbon Acquisition Group (CAG) dba Melbon Enterprises are making collective efforts to persuade the Prosecutor to launch a criminal investigation into the real estate company and its owner Dwain Carbon.

The group is represented by a lawyer who was informed that the Chief Prosecutor would take a decision before the end of September. The decision is still being awaited. “Every day I pray for peace, resolution and justice for all,” said a woman who was tricked into paying 50% of the purchase price of an apartment that is not going to be build. “How could anyone think it’s okay to do this to anyone?”

As published on his website, 38-year-old Dwain Carbon, who was born and raised in St. Maarten, is “the youngest self-made millionaire” on the island. He also claims that over the last ten years his Carbon Acquisition Group has become one of St. Maarten’s premier development companies. “Working within St. Maarten’s competitive market, Dwain has succeeded in developing and providing housing to the country’s young professionals and business owners alike, as well as to foreign and local investors,” reads his introduction.

The developer claims to have led numerous high-end projects on the island including the ten luxury condominiums of Windgate Residences in Pointe Blanche as well as the Carbon Grove Residences. Located on a hill behind the Ashley Furniture store in Cole Bay, this “gated community consists of 101 homes with unobstructed ocean and lagoon views”. He claims to have accrued US $37 million in sales revenue thus far. “With an eye on expansion, Dwain is currently developing his first-ever boutique hotel. His vision is to create a chain of such hotels in highly sought-after destinations beginning with St. Maarten and extending throughout the Caribbean and Florida.”

Reading this, who would ever think that the building permit application for DC Hotel, the luxury boutique hotel named after Dwain Carbon, was denied; that Carbon no longer owns Windgate Residences, as this complex was publicly auctioned at the request of Scotia Bank several years ago; and that CIBC First Caribbean bank now contemplates auctioning the Carbon Grove Estate because Carbon is more than 3.6 million dollars behind in mortgage payments? Carbon’s clients who stand to lose their investments when the bank enforces its mortgage rights, are desperate.

The duped home buyers were already furious seeing that Carbon ignored verdicts from the civil court, ordering the real estate developer to deliver his clients the apartments they paid for. With Carbon and his wife hiding out somewhere in Florida – their respective business addresses in Windermere, Orange County, is a P.O. Box number – and disgruntled clients not working together, getting angry had little to no effect.

Much to their surprise, a new Operations Manager at Carbon Acquisition Group carbon-copied each and every client in an email. Seeing the list of names, one woman decided to introduce herself and share her story of financial loss and heated discussions with Dwain Carbon. In the following days her inbox started to fill with one tragic story after another.

When Carbon found out that his clients were communicating with each other, he was not amused. The CEO sent his clients a video message, asking “Help me, to help you”.

“I have always seen the light at the end of the tunnel, because it is a mathematical challenge what we have here,” Carbon said. “It is all a number situation. From the disgruntled parties’ refunds to the project funding, to investors that invested with us, it all comes down to numbers.” He concluded that he needed to source money, because “You have to find a way to pay the bills”.

Looking back, he can clearly see where the problems started, Carbon said. “We undersold units.” Although not enough money was coming in, he kept spending. “It was bad judgement,” Carbon admitted.

He talked to himself in the second person, saying: “You probably bought into more projects than you should have. You thought you would expand yourself, and you would raise more monies to do that.” He had expected big returns, he said, but “due to a lot of unforeseens” he found himself in a situation where he did not have “the receivables to clear arrears”.

The fact that he has “a financial issue”, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t want to pay, said Carbon, who explained that he needed more time. “The challenge that we have been having is that every week our goalpost is moved by all of the disgruntled parties that get frustrated and take legal action. This puts more weight on you. You are swimming to reach the other side, but you have more and more weight being put on your back.”

The clear reason that he has not been able to live up to his financial obligations, Carbon said, “is the moving goalpost”. “New lawsuits to fight with attorneys, meaning hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees that could have been redirected to refunds to clients and to construction.”

According to the developer, progress was halted by liens being placed on the property. “We never had the opportunity of having at least three months of operating without the weight on our feet, so that we can deliver to you,” Carbon told his clients. “Construction needs to happen in order for the bank to stay involved in the project. We need to keep servicing the loan. You are talking about almost 30,000 dollars a month, with no new receivables coming in.”

He said he was working towards paying clients who opted out of the project and requested their deposits back. “They have been adding interest fees, so those numbers changed,” Carbon said to himself, “and while you are busy getting more monies… Guess what? New liens are now being placed, moving the goalpost yet again.”  He concluded: “Not everybody’s motive is pure. I know some of you just want your money back. But we do have a lot of people with malicious intentions that just want to see the project fail.”

“Please,” Carbon said. “Everyone please pull back your guns. Stop all the legal attacks, so this ship can move forward. Thank you.”

Publisher’s note: Is there any light at the end of this dark tunnel?


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