Government slow to provide Exco resolutions about Buncamper-lease

POSTED: 03/19/11 8:27 PM

St. Maarten– The government of St. Maarten had up to yesterday failed to comply with a request by this newspaper to provide copies of two Executive Council resolutions. The request is based on the national ordinance on public administration. This gives the government three weeks to take a decision. The Today Newspaper submitted its request on February 15; by now, four-and-a-half weeks have passed without a reaction.

The Today Newspaper wants a copy of Executive Council resolution number 129, dated February 14th, 2008, and of resolution number 747 of the same date. The resolutions deal with the decision to grant the right of long lease of a parcel of land on Pond Island opposite the Melford Hazel sports complex to former Public Health Minister Maria Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius Buncamper.

At the time, Buncamper-Molanus was Commissioner of Economic Affairs and therefore a member of the Executive Council. Though the decision was formally taken by the Executive Council, the authority to grant long lease rights was delegated to the Commissioner of Public Works, our current vice prime minister Theo Heyliger.

Theo Heyliger told this newspaper in February that he did not give the Buncampers permission to sublease the land or to otherwise give it in use to a third party. Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has stated earlier that, after the The Today Newspaper broke the story about the long lease scandal, the government has sought legal advice about options to take back the lease. So far, no action has been taken.

Maria Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius Buncamper sold the economic ownership of the leased land eight month after they obtained the long lease, for $3 million to the bogus company Eco-Green N.V. The cadastre and land registry office erroneously held the deed of this transaction in its public records from which it has since been removed. The cadastre no longer registers the sale of economic ownership and has informed the notary who drew up such deeds, Francis E. Gijsbertha, of this decision. Several deeds have been returned to the notary during the first month of the year, before the cadastre stopped receiving similar documents.

The Today Newspaper has requested to see a copy of the Executive council decisions of 2008 to verify the signatures on these documents. The government has, based on the national ordinance on public administration, three weeks to take a decision, and it is allowed once to ask for an extension of three weeks. Up to now, this newspaper has not received notice that the government needs more time to produce the paperwork, or that it has decided to refuse the request.

The Public Prosecutor’s Office had no update yesterday on the preliminary investigation into possible criminal acts by the Buncampers. Currently all resources are devoted to the four recent murders. The prosecutor’s office has assured several times that it is determined to take a decision about the possible criminal prosecution of the Buncampers. If the preliminary investigation leads to a decision not to prosecute, the office will make the reasons for this decision public.

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