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Texans Against HSR says high speed rail deeds Central Texas property to the Japanese government

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Posted at 1:41 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 18:48:15-04

UPDATE:

Texas Central President & CEO, Carlos Aguilar released the following statement in response to Texans Against HSR's press release:

“Despite unfounded rumors to the contrary, Texas Central Railroad, a Texas-based company, owns the property purchased for the state-of-the-art high-speed train project and continues to honor all of the commitments made to the landowners who have participated in the Land Option Purchase Program. Texas Central provided a security interest on its acquired property to its lender which is customary practice in real property transactions. As momentum builds toward physical construction, Texas Central continues to engage in personalized, open and collaborative discussions with landowners, outlining the project’s benefits, listening to their concerns and answering their questions.”

ORIGINAL STORY:

Texas Central Railway has deeded property from Texas landowners to the Japanese government through an offshore entity set up in the Cayman Islands, according to the organization Texans Against High Speed Rail.

The organization, comprised of "concerned citizens of the Texas counties along the proposed high speed rail routes," says based on a series of recently recorded real property transactions in counties along the affected route, "it appears the Japanese government required Texas Central to put up the land as collateral for the sizeable loan owed to them."

In each county, including Leon, Waller, Madison, and Grimes, Texas Central filed a “Deed of Trust, Assignment of Leases and Rents, Security Agreement and Fixture Filing” relating to property owned by Texas Central in that county, according to documents obtained by Texas Against HSR.

The beneficiary of these Deeds of Trust is an offshore entity named “Japan Texas High-Speed Railway Cayman GP.

"Texas Central did not disclose the existence of this offshore beneficiary to any of the landowners it convinced to sign an option contract. Nor did it disclose its plans to use the property purchased through the option contracts to secure a loan from the Japanese government," Texans Against HSR said.

Texans Against HSR chair and president, Kyle Workman, explained that this latest action is one in a long string that landowners need to be made aware of. “Texas Central has long touted itself as a Texas company and a Texas project. Yet, some of the first Texas property it acquired was immediately deeded to an offshore shell company created by the Japanese government.”

Workman continued, “If Texas Central had disclosed their intent to deed this property to the government of Japan, lawmakers and landowners most likely would have considered these real estate transactions differently. There are still landowners with pending option contracts with Texas Central…these Texans must be notified immediately that the property Texas Central has acquired is being used as collateral to secure a loan from a foreign government. We ask that the Governor support measures to protect Texas land from being deceptively acquired and transferred into the shadows of offshore ownership, beyond the regulatory protections of US and Texas law.”

Representative Ben Leman, the State Representative of House District 13 in Texas which includes Austin, Burleson, Colorado, Fayette, Grimes, Lavaca, and Washington counties, released the following statement:

“I am simply appalled,” said State Representative Ben Leman. “Since their conception, Texas Central has lied to its investors and Texans about this project. First, they said this project would cost $10 billion, yet now we learn their estimated costs have ballooned out of control to $30 billion. Second, Texas Central said this project would be privately-funded and they would not ask for government grants for construction or public money to subsidize operations. Yet, this is no longer true either; as they have admitted to actively seeking funding through a federal stimulus bill being pushed by Nancy Pelosi and the Green New Deal. Lastly, they claim to be a Texas company, yet they deeded the property acquired through threat of eminent domain and false pretenses to the Japanese Government. That is not a Texan thing to do and Texas Central must be stopped before other Texans and Texas taxpayers end up on the hook for their web of lies and misinformation. Many of my constituents’ family members fought and died for the very land they own. To take their land and give it to a foreign government under these circumstances is an insult to not only these families, but to every single Texan that cares about private property rights and our culture.”

Leman serves on the Texas House Committee on Transportation, Land and Resource Management, and Redistricting. In addition, he serves on the House Select Committee on Driver's License Issuance and Renewal as well as on the Legislative Committee on Aging.

According to Texans Against HSR, Texas Central Railway claims it will begin construction next year, but the company has recently laid off the majority of its staff, admitted the cost estimate for the project has ballooned to $30B, expressed its intent to seek federal funds for a project they have called “private” and “not needing any public funds,” and is now being required by the federal-level Surface Transportation Board to file a full application including financial and ridership information, which the company has refused to make public thus far.

The Federal Railroad Administration is set to publish its Record of Decision (ROD) related to the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for this HSR project on Friday.

This ROD does not give the company the needed permission to construct; however, it is considered a final federal action for the project, allowing lawsuits regarding FEIS NEPA violations to begin, the organization said.