Court orders investigation of Taxand’s business affairs

POSTED: 04/8/14 12:47 AM

St. Maarten – The Common Court of Justice has ordered an investigation into the business affairs of Taxand Curacao, the company that once upon a time held a contract with the Government of St. Maarten to design a new fiscal system. The court appointed Leo Spigt (Spigt Litigators) to do the investigation.

In June 2012, shortly after the fall of the first Wescot-Williams cabinet, Finance Minister Roland Tuitt revealed how his predecessor Hiro Shigemoto had entered into a deal with Taxand for a contract worth between $11 and $14 million. There was no tender and no signed contract according to Tuitt. Taxand stood to receive 15 percent of additional tax revenue the country would collect after it had rebuilt St. Maarten’s fiscal system.

The Taxand deal became the center of a political firestorm and things only got worse after the partners in this company, Peter Muller and Judith Brewster had a fall out. Muller asked the court to investigate what went on at the company. He accuses Brewster of fraud and mismanagement, an accusation he also leveled at former directors Manuel Candal and Roelof Vos.

Spigt will investigate Taxand Curacao’s business activities starting from December 31, 2010.

Peter Muller’s office M&A merged with Brewster’s company B&B consultancy into Taxand Curacao at the end of 2010. Muller and Brewster became the directors of the new company. Things went sour when Muller discovered that Brewster took money out of Taxand for personal use. In the summer of 2012, both Muller and Brewster resigned as directors at Taxand. Muller kicked Taxand out of his office building, because it was behind with the rent. Muller works in the meantime independently against, but he is still waiting for payments and dividends from Taxand.

Former directors Candal and Vos and interim manager Chris De Bres have informed the Common Court of Justice that Taxand’s financial administration over the year 2011 was seriously below standards. De Bres – an attorney at HBN Law – was appointed in June, but he was released from his duties in January. He found that there is no “accessible and accurate administration” at Taxand.

The annual account for 2011 contains a substantial claim of Taxand Curacao on Brewster’s company, but that has not been paid yet. De Bres reported significant debts at Taxand “that cannot be honored due to the lack of resources” and due to irreconcilable differences of opinion.

According to the Common Court of Justice, these facts make it “plausible that Brewster by letting this claim (on her company –ed.) come into being, while she was a director of Taxand Curacao, has mixed her own interests and those of companies linked to her improperly with the interests of Taxand Curacao.”

The fact that the board did not make any effort to get the administration in order or to collect the claim on Brewster “indicates that the board members of Taxand Curacao have misjudged or neglected their role.”

All this is reason to doubt that there was a correct policy, according to the court. It appointed Spigt per April 1 and stipulated that the costs of the investigation may not exceed 50,000 guilders (about $28,000). Taxand Curacao has to pay for the investigation.

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