FIRM SEEKS UNPAID FEES FOR COOK ISLANDS SHERATON HOTEL CONSTRUCTION

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AVARUA, Cook Islands (October 8, 1997 - Radio Australia)---An Italian construction company has begun legal action against the Cook Islands government over construction of the ill-fated Sheraton Hotel on Rarotonga.

The Stephany Spa Company wants to recover unpaid fees relating to the now abandoned resort project.

Work on the 200-room hotel first stopped when Sicel Corporation of Italy, the original contractor, ran into financial trouble. The project was taken over by Stephany, but stalled again in 1995 when people involved in the project were arrested in Italy, allegedly on charges relating to organized crime.

Stephany and the Cook Islands government have held a preliminary hearing on the matter by telephone, agreeing that the dispute should be heard by a visiting New Zealand judge on a date still to be determined.

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