By Jacqueline Hooftman
Source: The Daily Herald
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — 45 heirs of the late Alfred Richardson are the owners of the Over the Bank and Vineyard Heights area, liquidator Mylene Imelda Richardson revealed to The Daily Herald. “Forty heirs have come forward to claim what is rightfully theirs, and to stop the unlawful actions of the Government of St. Maarten. “
In addition to in St. Maarten, Richardson heirs reside in Curaçao, Aruba, Bonaire, the Netherlands, Italy and the United States. “Scattered, but united,” said Richardson, who was appointed liquidator by the court in Curaçao on November 5, 2020.
“We did not give any permission to start anything on the lands Vineyard and Over the bank. This is privately-owned property of Alfred Richardson that we inherited.”
Based on the task assigned to her by the judge in Curaçao, Richardson has had notices published in the media calling on the heirs. She also used other means to track down family members in the Richardson diaspora to make them aware of the procedures to be followed if they want to claim their inheritance.
“All the Richardson heirs must attend the procedures to fulfil the task of liquidator together,” Richardson said. “Before we can enter into any legal agreement with anybody, we first have to come together. That takes time. I am currently finishing the administration of justice for the heirs living in Aruba and St. Maarten.”
Heirs were uniting already in 2018 and they contacted the Ministry of Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning, and Infrastructure VROMI. Then-Minister of VROMI Miklos Giterson and Head of Domain Affairs Raeyhon Peterson acted correctly, with integrity, Richardson said. “They saw that they could not continue [with the formalisation of the issued deeds – Ed.]”
Former VROMI Minister Angel Meyers had issued official signed government documents indicating government’s intention to issue specified parcels of land at Vineyard Heights/Over the Bank to 54 persons, including employees of his own ministry.
On August 8, 2016, Meyers sent a memo to then head of the Domain Department Darryl Stuart, requesting “to further process the decrees and advice” for 15 people. Number three on the list was VROMI’s then-chief policy advisor Sandro Garcia. And number 10: policy advisor Mark Williams.
Director of Permits Charlon Pompier and former Head of Domain Affairs Raeyhon Peterson both were offered a 2,000-square-metre parcel of land at Vineyard Heights, but they respectfully declined.
“And now Minister Doran shamelessly wants to unlawfully turn this area into a gated community for his self-enrichment,” Richardson said. “He knows that we claimed the land in 2018 with Minister Giterson who was waiting for us to reach all the heirs.”
The land of the late Alfred Richardson Hassell, born in St. Maarten on November 15, 1887, and died in Curaçao on November 25, 1943, and his wife Imelda Richardson Vernom, born in St. Maarten on July 8, 1889, and died in Curaçao on October 7, 1960, covers several hundreds of acres in the eastern range of the island from Vineyard towards Naked Boy Hill near Upper Prince’s Quarter.
“There is a part that my great-grandfather had in co-ownership with his uncle William Henry Marlin Richardson that extends up to Guana Bay,” said the liquidator. She points out that the legacy includes the area Over the Bank/Vineyard Heights, of which the original deeds C11-49/50, C12-34 up to C13-13 are registered with the Registry of the Common Court of Justice of Curaçao and St. Maarten.
The liquidator sent claim letters via mail to VROMI Minister Egbert Doran, Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion and Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, to whom she “even sent it via messenger on Facebook.” Not one of the ministers sent a confirmation of receipt, Richardson said. “Prime Minister Jacobs knows that I am the liquidator, but she has not contacted me, or replied to my emails.”
The land distribution lists of VROMI Minister Egbert Doran and former minister Angel Meyers “are false,” Richardson reiterates. “We did not give permission to start anything on the lands Vineyard Heights and Over the Bank.”
The liquidator made several appointments with notary Marlene Mingo, but each time the appointment was cancelled, she said. It took her a while to understand the reason.
“When I approached notary Mingo and pointed out the fact that she is passing deeds illegally for others to buy our lands, she denied it. She told me that she did not know anything about the case because Hurricane Irma had wiped away the documents of my grandfather Alfred.”
Richardson, furious: “Notary Mingo is the one making the false agreements. She stabbed me and the other Richardson heirs in the back.”
The heist began with Notary Francis Gijsbertha, Richardson said. “His notary office sits on the land of my grandfather Alfred Richardson. In the ’80s Gijsbertha was appointed trustee of the land by the Government of St. Maarten. But that’s not legal! One must be appointed by the Court and that never happened.”
Richardson went to the land registry and mapping agency Kadaster in Philipsburg and to the Courthouse to verify.
“It was then, when I went to look for who appointed Gijsbertha, that they told me they could not find his name anywhere. Except for the Henson case [Henson vs Land 16-11-2018]; there he was mentioned as the trustee of Ann Richardson, our great-grandmother. But at the land registry Kadaster they could not find any deed under the name of Ann Richardson. Only deeds of our grandfather Alfred Richardson were registered.”
Richardson claims that notary Mingo, while she is the successor of Gijsbertha, denied knowing anything about Richardson’s legacy.
The original owners of Vineyard Heights, Over the Bank and the area in Upper Prince’s Quarter, Sucker Garden and the hills up to Guana Bay are August and Alfred van Romondt and John Hassell and Ann Abraham Hassell, great-grandparents of liquidator Mylene Richardson. “They appointed our grandfather Alfred as the family solver and owner of the deeds to use the land to the benefit of the descendants of the freed slaves.”
Richardson said the Richardson heirs will take the next legal steps as the rightful owners of the Vineyard Heights and Over the Bank lands. “Enough is enough. It is time for redemption now.”
The Daily Herald made several attempts to contact Notary Marlene Mingo, but she could not be reached for comment.