After meeting with Minister Marlin: Ombudsman awaits delayed reaction to Cadastre-reportPOSTED: 03/26/13 11:29 AM
St. Maarten – Vromi-Minister William Marlin will inform Ombudsman Dr. Nilda Arduin within two weeks in writing about his position on her Cadastre-report. On June 8 of last year, Arduin presented a report that addresses seven shortcomings at the Cadastre and Mortgage Registry. In the report, the Ombudsman asked the minister to react to it within four weeks.
But on August 6 of last year, there still was no reaction. On that date, Marlin stated in a letter that he would initiate “a formal query” to obtain “a substantiated response to the deficiencies” in the Ombudsman report.
That query became an issue because cadastre-director Clemens Roos was outraged about the report’s content, saying it was one-sided and that Arduin “abused her position by mixing up business with private interest.” At the time, Marlin wrote to Arduin that he would “seek to obtain a response within 14 days.
The investigation into the functioning of the cadastre started after media reports emerged from the Maria Buncamper-Molanus long lease scandal in December 2010 that suggested unauthorized changes in excerpts from the public register that were issued on December 14 and 15 of last year.
Arduin noted during the press conference in June that the Cadastre “had refused to cooperate properly with the investigation.”
Roos has contested these allegations, saying that the Ombudsman ignored an invitation to visit the Cadastre.
Eight months later, the Ombudsman has finally met with Minister Marlin who promised a reaction to the report within another fortnight.
In a press release the Ombudsman refers to the fact that the supervisory board of the cadastre took no action after it received the preliminary findings of the investigation. The Ombudsman continued with its probe, wrote a report and made recommendations to Minister Marlin. According to the Ombudsman’s press release, the supervisory board is held by law to give account to the minister.
The Ombudsman report found fault with the registration and control over the cadastre’s public registry, and with the link between the computer system Kadsys and the registration of information in public registers. The Ombudsman also signaled a lack of cooperation from the cadastre to provide documents that outline its work procedures – a charge Cadastre-director Roos has denied.
The Ombudsman asked Minister Marlin “which measures are taken in the interest of the citizens of St. Maarten to ensure that the Cadastre carries out its tasks accurately” and whether the control over the Cadastre is guaranteed.
The Ombudsman also asked for an investigation into “the fairness of the Cadastre’s tariffs and reimbursement system. Lastly, the Ombudsman asked the minister to “initiate actions to fill any gaps in the law regarding the public registers.”
The press release also gives an explanation for the delayed follow upon last year’s report: “It has partly been the result of parties involved not being fully aware of the scope of authority of the Ombudsman.” there was also a delay in the legal advice about the report.