DH | Port St. Maarten adopts ‘whistleblower’ policy

Port St. Maarten adopts ‘whistleblower’ policy

PORT–Port St. Maarten has implemented a whistleblower- and non-retaliation policy for its organization in accordance with the request of the prosecutor. The Port has also created the positions of a confidential counsellor and a compliance officer, which are expected to be filled after the selected candidates pass an internal screening.

According to a press statement from the Port, given that government has decided to institute an integrity chamber to which problems within state-owned companies can be reported, the Port feels there are now sufficient opportunities for persons to report any perceived integrity-related issues.

Based on all measures taken by the Port during the past few months, the prosecutor has withdrawn several injunctive measures against it. For example, the demands to suspend the entire supervisory board and to have the Court appoint an interim Chief Executive Officer and a new supervisory board were all dropped by the prosecutor in the case related to request a civil inquiry.
For the Port, this action by the prosecutor “confirms that it has faith in the current acting management and the supervisory board and all actions that have been taken in relation to governance, compliance and integrity.”

The Court of Appeal is expected to render its decision on whether it will order an investigation into the Port on June 26.

The Port has “full confidence in a positive outcome of the case and is committed to continue to fully cooperate with the prosecutor in the pending investigations,” Port management said on Wednesday.
The request for an inquiry into the Port’s management originated from a complaint letter that was sent to the prosecutor by the lawyers of Zebec Development NV. At that time, the Port was involved in a legal dispute with that company concerning the failed Dutch Village Project.

Eventually, that case was settled. However, the allegations raised by Zebec Development’s lawyers led the prosecutor to investigate the Port. During a period of two years, the Port provided the prosecutor with answers to an array of questions, and provided large quantities of documents that were requested, even though no specific allegations or complaints were made by the prosecutor during this time, Port management said.

In response to the allegations raised by the prosecutor, the Port submitted a written response to the Court. In that response and during the court hearing on May 24, the Port agreed with the prosecutor that certain matters raised by it were valid. For example, for several years the Port’s supervisory board operated with fewer members than required under its articles of association. As of August 2017, the Port again complies with this requirement.

Another valid matter raised by the prosecutor is that the Port’s shareholder did not timely approve the Port’s annual accounts. The shareholder, as represented by the minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transportation and Telecommunication, has indicated that this will be resolved on short notice.
In respect to the Emerald case, the Port has indicated to the prosecutor that if the alleged fraud is proven in court, measures will be taken by the Port against those that can be held accountable.

“Should the Public Prosecutor’s pending criminal investigation into the 2010 Causeway tender procedure also result in convictions, the Port is committed to take any appropriate action available,” Port management said.

Bron: Daily Herald

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