Civil law attorney Frielink: “Legal obligation to reveal shareholders does not exist”

POSTED: 03/6/15 1:28 PM

St. Maarten – Parliament is facing an uphill battle in its attempt to bring the shareholders or beneficial owners of Checkmate Security NV to light. “A legal obligation to reveal the identity of shareholders or beneficial owners of a company does not exist,” civil law attorney Karel Frielink said in answer to questions from this newspaper.

“In a civil procedure the court– insofar this is relevant for a case – can instruct a party to reveal the names. If that party does not do this, the court could consider this in its judgment,” Frielink said.

Private companies register their directors at the Chamber of Commerce, but the register of shareholders is not public. Frielink notes that shareholders are not necessarily the beneficial owners of a private company. “The shareholder could hold the shares for the account and the risk of a third party.”

Frielink has a distinct opinion about the way crucial facilities like the port and the airport ought to deal with outsourcing critical services like security. “I would think that, considering the importance of the security, a contract should not be entered into without a thorough screening of the security personnel, but also of the company and of the people who are in charge there or who have a financial interest in  it. After all, the company gets access to sensitive information.”

In this context, it is interesting to observe that the researchers who wrote the PricewaterhouseCoopers integrity report did not receive any information from the harbor group of companies about procurement policies and procedures. It was therefore not possible for the researchers to analyze the procurement rules at the harbor. The airport has established rules for procurement, but according to the PwC-report they are “not consistently adhered to.”

Frielink says that the responsible minister ought to indicate at least whether such a thorough screening has taken place, by whom and with which result. “He also ought to inform the parliament about the identity of the shareholders and beneficial owners – if necessary in confidence. “Afterwards, the parliament will have to assess whether confidentiality is justified. I think the next move should come from the parliament. It ought to force the minister to open up.”

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