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MONEY ISSUES EMBROIL ICC AND CONTRACTOR

Aug. 17, 2001 – Jeffrey Prosser, the local tycoon whose newspaper announced in 1999 that he was going to bail out the cash-strapped V.I. government, recently used a boat to pay off a debt. The move fuels speculation that Prosser’s Innovative Communication Corp. is experiencing cash-flow problems.
According to Territorial Court documents, Prosser’s ICC is suing Tip Top Construction, the company that renovated the former Victor Borge mansion in Christiansted that is now ICC’s corporate headquarters, for what ICC is essentially calling a breach of contract.
An agreement was signed by ICC and Tip Top executives in March that settled Tip Top’s $808,766 construction lien filed in February for work done on the Borge mansion, also called the Bjerget House. After what court documents characterized as "intense negotiations" mediated by project architect Robert deJongh to settle the $808,766 claim, ICC agreed to sign over title of a 1999 Contender sportfishing boat over 30 feet in length and valued at approximately $120,000 to Percy Hollins, father of Tip Top owner Joey Hollins, for $1. ICC also agreed to make two payments of $190,000 by March 16 and April 13 to Tip Top.
But in June, Tip Top filed another construction lien against ICC, this one for $47,980. Tip Top claims it is for work done on Bjerget House East. ICC disputes the claim and is suing Tip Top.
"The filing of the second lien is for a sum of monies that was fully settled and resolved between the parties," the ICC lawsuit said, adding that Tip Top’s action is "unlawful and constitutes slander" on ICC’s title to the Bjerget House property. ICC wants the lien invalidated and an award of punitive damages of $47,980. The case is being scheduled for trial.
Prosser's use of an asset to partially satisfy a debt and the existence of other liens filed by subcontractors who have worked on ICC projects have raised questions about the financial health of Prosser’s empire, something the Source reported on last April in the story "Does Prosser have money problems?"
The questions about ICC’s financial standing are a far cry from April 1, 1999, when Prosser’s newspaper, the V.I. Daily News, trumpeted in a banner headline that he was going to bail out the V.I. government in a land-for-tax breaks deal.
In the proposed deal, Prosser’s ICC, which is privately held, and its subsidiaries would have received tax breaks in exchange for giving land to the cash-strapped government. The plan was for ICC to turn over to the government 1,000 acres of improved, subdivided land on St. Croix’s northwest shore, which would then have been given to government workers in lieu of retroactive wages owed.
In addition, ICC would have given nearly $10 million for public projects to be built on St. Croix, St. Thomas and St. John.
In return, Prosser would have received full tax breaks for 10 of his companies for 30 years, a deal that was valued at anywhere from $180 million to $3.5 billion.
The controversial proposal was considered by Gov. Charles W. Turnbull, then pulled by Prosser after intense criticism in the community. It was revived in late May of 1999 and approved 8-7 in the Senate. Turnbull vetoed the deal.

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