It is going to be very interesting to see where the chips fall with this investigation at the harbour group of companies.


Pointe Blanche, Sint Maarten — The OSPP welcomes the news that an investigation is to take place at the St. Maarten Harbour Holding N.V. It is better late than never, says Lenny F. Priest. What kept them so long in initiating this investigation, in particular since there has been so much rumor circulating in St. Maarten for the last decade over wrong doings and corruption within the harbour group of companies? It has been said that the harbour has been used as the cash cow for in particular one of the leading politicians in St. Maarten. Obviously, they have not learnt from the airport scandal in the nineties. It all started when funds that should have gone to the treasury of the government of St. Maarten was used for so called beautification. It is alleged that no bids were carried out when these contracts were awarded and that only those within the inner circles of that leading politician were granted contracts.

The horrible Back Street work that was done from the Cadaster Office down to the end is one such beautification that makes you feel like you are in a boat that is rocking from one side to the other. Driving on this road reminds most of us what St. Maarten used to be when dirt roads were graded today, it rains tonight and the motorists had to endure driving through all these pools of water and in deep holes. This area of Back Street has become darker than it was before the so called beautification was done. Strangely enough, this road has been in this despicable condition for years and none of the governments saw it fit to fix it. Perhaps we will learn via this investigation why it was never fixed.

Without a doubt this investigation must shed some more light on the increase that was granted to the Check Mate Security Company by over 100 percent without it going on a public bid. We will learn who the local owners are and what the security breach would be if certain information is divulged to the general public about this sweetheart deal.

We should learn more about the Zebec Development N.V. that filed a legal claim of more than 100 million dollars against the harbour and its’ Chief Executive officer Mr. Mark Mingo. There should be more information on files about certain loans that were acquire to purchase the cranes and who the directors were of the crane company in Panama that provided the loans. All that information is still very sketchy. More than anything else we are about to learn who gives the instructions for certain things to happen at the harbour and at what price.

Unlike the Minister of TEATT who hopes that the harbour management and supervisory board cooperate with this investigation, the OSPP emphatically states that they must cooperate. This company belongs to the people of St. Maarten and we are demanding this full fledge investigation. This investigation is even better than the call that was made by the OSPP to take the harbour to court to acquire the documentation on the Check Mate Security contract. More ground will be cover and if a criminal investigation is the end result, so let it be.

However, we don’t expect this investigation to last for donkey years. The public prosecutor office should acquire the necessary expertise for this investigation to be swift and transparent.

The people of St. Maarten has a right to know how their companies are operating and when will they benefit from these operations.