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CANBERRA, Australia (December 8, 1997 - PACNEWS)---The Republic of Nauru is reported to have paid $26 million to settle a long-running dispute with an Australian property developer over its purchase of the controversial Queen Victoria Hospital site in Melbourne's central business district.

The site was bought by the Nauru Government in 1994 from property developer David Marriner for $33.34 million, just six months after Marriner bought the land from the Victorian Government for $8.42 million.

Under the deal, Nauru paid a deposit of $7.4 million, with the remaining amount of $25.94 million due this past September. When Nauru failed to meet the purchase settlement deadline, Marriner took legal action and regained possession of the site.

Nauru was unsuccessful in two appeals against the decision.

In an agreement reached Sunday - full details of which have not yet been revealed - Nauru will retain the site, pay an agreed upon amount o Marriner, and drop legal action against the company.

The Australian Financial Review has quoted a spokesperson for the Government of Nauru as confirming that Nauru is considering developing gardens and an underground carpark on the old hospital site.

The spokesperson said the court decision to revert the site to Marriner would have cost Nauru its $7.4 million deposit. In addition, if Marriner sold the site for less than the amount contracted with Nauru, it would have been liable for the difference.

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