Beaujon, Gibson and Wit lead integrity investigation of the public administration in St. Maarten

POSTED: 10/17/13 9:57 AM

St. Maarten – Justice Bob Wit, retired banker Jan Beaujon and Cft board member Richard Gibson Sr. have been appointed to a committee that will, as Justice Minister Dennis Richardson said it, “do a sweeping investigation into the integrity of the public administration in St. Maarten.” An interim report must be ready in three months and the final report within six months.

Minister Richardson made the announcement at an impromptu press briefing on Wednesday morning whereby he described the need to do the investigation and whereby he also outlined the committee’s task that has been detailed in a draft national decree. The Council of Ministers unanimously approved the draft decree that is now awaiting the signature of Governor Drs. Eugene Holiday.

“The integrity-investigation the Council of Ministers has now ordered is much broader and deeper than the investigation that has been commandeered in the royal decree to the governor,” Richardson said. “Why does St. Maarten continue if there  already is a royal decree? It is important that they see that this is a serious matter for St. Maarten, also with the advice in mind that is being prepared by the Kingdom Council of state. It is important to us that an investigation is done.”

The fact that the government contests the legality of the royal decree is a second argument to push a separate investigation. “If it turns out that we are right and we do nothing then there would be no investigation at all. We have always stated as government that we want this investigation. We need this investigation because the perception out there of rampant corruption in government needs to be addressed. Facts have to be established and dealt with and fiction has to be sent to the magical world of fiction and remain there.”

Minister Richardson added that the government also wants to establish that the investigation is independent. “It is going to be carried out by people who are known to be independent in our community,” he said, before revealing that Justice Bob wit – President of the Constitutional Court, former Windward Islands Bank Director Jan Beaujon and Cft board member Richard Gibson Sr. are the three members that have been appointed to the integrity-committee.

The trio will seek out three additional members from other parts of the Kingdom – most likely from the Netherlands. “If such people are hesitant to participate because of the conflict we currently have with the Dutch government, the committee will seek candidates elsewhere in international organizations,” Richardson said.

The committee will be responsible for “investigating, reporting on and making recommendations about the proper functioning and integrity of the public administration in St. Maarten,” the minister said, adding that the functioning of guarantee mechanism that have been put in place also falls within the scope of the investigation.

“The committee shall examine the functioning of various sectors of the public administration, identify sectors that are particularly vulnerable to corruptive practices and the methods that might have been used to corrupt these parts of the organization,” Richardson explained.

Furthermore the committee is tasked with establishing the extent to which corruption exists – on both the political and administrative level – and to chart the relationships and patters of the public administration and the private sector.

“The committee shall review and assess the existing mechanism to ensure the integrity of government and to prevent corruption. The committee reports on its findings and makes recommendations regarding shortcomings, weaknesses and bottlenecks in the guarantee measures that are in place to support sound government, and to combat corruption and the violation of integrity.”

Minister Richardson described the initiative as a sweeping investigation. “We need this,” he said. “The island’s image has been seriously damaged. If those allegations are true we have some serious cleanup to do. And if they are not true they need to be banned to the land of fiction forever.”

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