Canadian developer Kevin Fleming, Chairman of Grupo Mariana, claims he is being “unlawfully detained in Nicaragua.”
On Feb. 4, Fleming was notified by Nicaraguan immigration authorities that he is prohibited from leaving the country due to a pending defamation case filed against him in Managua by Ted Cole, one of the investors in the Seaside Mariana project.
“After routinely checking in with the airline, Fleming was notified by the immigration officer that departure from Nicaragua was not possible because there was an immigration restriction notice from the Central Immigration Office,” Fleming wrote in a voluminous email explanation that he claims he sent to 25,000 people around the world this morning.
Fleming’s missive goes to list in detail why he considers the lawsuit and immigration restriction against him irregular and illegal. A preliminary hearing for the defamation case was originally scheduled for Feb. 8, but was canceled at the last moment. No new court date has been set, says Fleming, who is staying in Managua with friends of family.
In the meantime, Fleming, who spent years trying to promote Nicaragua as part of his marketing campaign for Seaside Mariana—an embattled development project planned for Nicaragua’s central Pacific coast—is now waging a campaign claiming the country he formerly promoted is now holding him against his will.
Fleming’s family members are also getting involved. Jennifer Ostler, Fleming’s cousin, wrote an email this morning to Canada’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy, who was in Managua last week to announce a new $8 million aid package for Nicaragua, calling on her to “speak to Nicaraguan officials about the irregularities of this detention so that he can return to Vancouver to be with his family.”
The defamation case against Fleming was born out of the heated back-and-forth that he had with Cole in the wake of other fraud allegations and the decisions by Wyndham Hotel Group and Nicklaus Design to terminate their contracts with Seaside Mariana due to concerns about the project’s legal troubles and slow progress. Fleming and Cole got into several heated exchanges online, including in the comments thread of The Nicaragua Dispatch’s Dec. 13 article on the Wyndham and Nicklaus pullout.
Cole, who lives in Managua, claims his lawsuit against Fleming is the first of more to come.
“Kevin has lost his grip on the truth and making it up on the fly and trying to sell his version of events to bring him credibility,” Cole told The Nicaragua Dispatch in an email. “Within a week or two, there will be many lawsuits filed.”
Fleming, meanwhile, claims it is the plaintiff that has become desperate.
“We’re not very surprised at the desperate actions of the plaintiffs and threats of their attorney to bring criminal action against Kevin Fleming,” Fleming wrote in another one of his famously lengthy emails to investors last week. “Having one’s back to the wall can bring out a viciousness that is frightening to witness. And that is exactly what we’re seeing from their recent actions in Nicaragua.”
Despite the ongoing troubles surrounding Grupo Mariana, Fleming claims the problems are due to “illegalities” and “falsehoods” that he thinks he can clear up to allow the Seaside Mariana project to move forward.
Fleming writes in his email to investors, “We look forward to setting the record straight so we can turn our attention to the most important thing: The still beautiful oceanfront property of Seaside Mariana and how we regroup and move forward.”