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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sun Printing and Publishing folds

The last vestige of what was once the R Allen Stanford empire crumbled Friday afternoon, with the closure of Sun Printing and Publishing Company Limited for an indeterminable period.

The 46 members of the Antigua staff and four in St Kitts received letters that read, in part, “owing to circumstances beyond our control, the company will be unable to sustain operations in the immediate future.”

Interestingly, a check on the St Kitts office, by an OBSERVER reporter, just after 3:30 pm yesterday as the staff in Antigua was receiving the news, revealed that up to that point, they were unaware of the development.

The letter noted that the directors, Stanford’s fiancée Andrea Stoelker and Barbara Streete, are working with legal counsel “to explore possible options for a solution to our short and long term difficulties.”

It was just last month that the paper was not printed for a week because of financial constraints that rendered management unable to clear a shipment of paper from the port.
Additionally, Antigua-based staffers said they walked away from the posh offices at the gateway to VC Bird International Airport being owned salaries for the last two pay periods.

The letter, which was signed by General Manager Patrick Henry, noted that there should be news on the way forward in the middle of next week. Incidentally, Stoelker was not at yesterday’s meeting and the news was delivered by Henry, who employees said spoke with his head hung. Only about half of the staff was present.

Sources said the directors are in discussions with the principals of the Barbados Advocate, who expressed an interest in the company.

Informed that rather than a sale, a lease option is being discussed, members of staff crafted a proposal, to which they had no reply at the time of going to press, to ask Stoelker and Streete to consider using 25 per cent of the severance owed to a group of them to lease the operations.

Sun employees had received severance letters at the end of July 2009, although they did not receive the monies to which they were entitled at the time. Those sums are, however, accruing interest until such a time that they can be paid.

There was mixed emotions from employees with whom this newspaper spoke yesterday afternoon. Some said they saw this coming and had prepared as best they could. Others said they were hopeful that issues would be resolved and they would be back at work with the company in some form or other, and a few were clearly dejected at the prospects of having commitments and being unemployed.

Of further concern to another set was issues not addressed yesterday, such as late notice of the lay off, outstanding salaries and vacation pay.

The Sun, which began operations in 1998, in the past 12 months doggedly withstood the loss of its benefactor, who is in a Texas jail waiting to defend himself against charges that he orchestrated a massive ponzi scheme.

With diminished capacity, statute and skeleton staff, Stanford Development Company (SDC) struggles on.

Several other Stanford companies, namely The Pavilion, Stanford Trust, Antigua Athletic Club, Sticky Wicket Restaurant, Stanford Cricket Ground, SDC Warehouse at Powells Estate and the Parking Lot were forced out of operation earlier this year for outstanding utilities owed to Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA).

1 comment:

  1. What happened to the sibfraud group. It's site is no longer updated and the forum is gone. Just wondered as I used to read it. Now you have the most current info on this debacle.

    ReplyDelete