KARACHI: For the last eight years, apartment owners of Creek Marina Project, located in Defence Housing Authority Phase VIII, are running from pillar to post to either get a refund or a commitment of possession in the luxury project.
In 2005, Creek Marina was launched with much fanfare in Karachi, with 780 high-end apartments on sale. Around 280 buyers signed in to the project.
Buyers were reassured by the fact that the developing partners were not fly-by-night Pakistani parties, but a Singaporean company (Meinhardt) in partnership with the DHA. Payments were scheduled on a quarterly basis, with completion promised in December 2009. However, construction faltered in 2009, and the completion date was revised by 18 months, with payment schedules revised correspondingly.
By mid-2010, construction had come to a complete halt, and all inquiries directed at the local management of the developers were met with evasive answers and finally an admission that ‘no one in Pakistan was in a position to effect the progress’.
Frustrated, many investors filed cases in the Sindh High Court and the National Accountability Bureau (NAB).
Some 280 buyers have been left in a lurch after an investment of Rs3 billion was stuck in the coastal development. Many buyers have paid over 50 per cent of the total cost of Rs20 million for an apartment.
Repeated attempts by Dawn to get the view point of concerned officials looking after the project in the DHA failed. Meanwhile, victims allege that all responsibility seems to lie with Dr Shahzad Nasim, the CEO and owner of Meinhardt (Singapore), who had signed the original agreement with DHA in 2004.
In 2011, buyers formed an Action Committee, and approached DHA for help. DHA advised them to pursue Dr Nasim, but all attempts to contact him elicited a categorical denial by him. He further filed a suit for defamation in which each of the signatories of the letter were sued for the amount of Rs100m.
Subsequent investigation by the buyers revealed that a series of shell companies had been set up to distance the Meinhardt CEO from Creek Marina Pvt Ltd created in Pakistan to oversee the development, with Meinhardt (Singapore) appointed as the consultants to the project.
Talking to Dawn, Shabbir Allibhai, a buyer and member of the action committee, said that he had written to the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to confirm whether Creek Marina Pvt Ltd had filed their accounts with the commission.
The company has not completed Form A listing of the Directors, nor had they filed their accounts for the years 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013, he said.
Buyers felt that one possible resolution to their dilemma lay in getting DHA to persuade Meinhardt to resume the project and hope for an early resolution.