Legal Hell In Fiji Paradise

The poolside villas, the beachfront location, the warm tropical air - it should be paradise. But for 240 investors in the Hilton on Fiji's Denarau Island, the past 18 months have been more like purgatory. Some forced to mortgagee sale would probably describe it as hell, The New Zealand Herald reported. Now the trouble in paradise has escalated to the point where owners are about to put padlocks on their villas, potentially disrupting the holiday plans of hundreds at the peak of Fiji's tourism season. In the mid-2000s, the mostly Kiwi and Australian investors bought villas in Auckland developer Neville Mahon's Fiji Beach Resort and Spa, managed by the Hilton. The deal was that owners would get 10 weeks a year in their villas and the rest of the time earn a handsome return off the rental income gathered from hiring out the rooms. Apart from one monthly payment from the receivers now in charge of Mahon's companies, villa owners have not seen a cent since September 2008. Invercargill investor Trevor Rogan estimates the current total owed to owners is $5.5 million and counting. Rogan is at the forefront of a group of around 50 investors whose patience has well and truly run out. They have given the receivers and Hilton notice that they will lock up their villas from August 1 unless a new management contract can be negotiated to give the owners control. Read more.