Management of SMHDF fights suspension, seeks compensation
FRIDAY, 15 MAY 2015 01:35
PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation’s (SMHDF’s) Finance Manager Emilio Kalmera and Executive Assistant Miurica Williams challenged their suspensions by the foundation’s Supervisory Board in the Court of First Instance on Wednesday.
Managing Director Henry Lynch saw his service agreement with SMHDF end on February 4, based on a host of allegations concerning financial mismanagement and embezzlement.
Representing Kalmera and Williams, attorney Cindy Marica called her clients’ suspension invalid and illegitimate, as only the Board of Directors, not the Supervisory Board, would be entitled to make such a decision.
Marica said furthermore that SMHDF had not worked diligently in dealing with the cases against her clients. “The allegations against my clients are unclear, the investigation took too long and they were not heard by their employers. They were snubbed and treated like criminals due to personal vendettas,” the lawyer said.
She demanded payment of the litigants’ salaries until their labour agreements have been terminated legally and demanded rectification of a press release by SMHDF’s lawyer Jairo Bloem that was sent to the media on March 11 in which Bloem had summed up a large number of allegations.
Bloem said during Wednesday’s hearing that three members of SMHDF’s daily management had been suspended based on allegations of fraud, forgery, embezzlement and noncompliance with internal guidelines.
He said the suspension of management members had been announced around December 12, 2014, after which locks and access codes to SMHDF’s offices had been changed. Following the suspension, threats were made in the social media and then-minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Maurice Lake was pressured into ordering a halt to the investigations into SMHDF’s operations by Government Accountants Bureau SOAB.
Bloem said the decision to suspend daily management had been made correctly and salaries had been paid out, with the exception of Kalmera. The finance manager also had been working for government and no longer had been available for work with SMHDF. “Kalmera wants to abuse his suspension to obtain a generous compensation,” said Bloem.
As head of financial control, Kalmera was responsible for checking Lynch’s credit-card expenses. Nevertheless, Lynch was able to pay NAf. 100,000 for non SMHDF-related expenses, Bloem claimed. He said more than half of expenditures were “unjustified.”
Lynch would have introduced persons into the foundation with ties to the underworld, Bloem alleged, and Lynch, Kalmera and a third person named “Belle” had travelled to Belize for the purchase of a piece of land at SMHDF’s expense.
Bloem also said building projects had been granted to only a limited number of contractors: Taliesin Construction, Seacon Construction and FRM Construction. However, the other two businesses held the same address and used the same employees as Taliesin, Bloem claimed.
The hearings in this case will resume Wednesday, May 20, with the lawyers’ second round of pleadings.