Minister Lake misreads articles of incorporation: Chaos at housing foundation

POSTED: 12/17/14 3:21 PM

St. Maarten – The actions by a lone board member of the St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) to request the government’s accountants bureau (Soab) to carry out a forensic investigation, and also into the purchase-to-pay process and remuneration process is premature, Vromi-Minister Maurice Lake states in a press release.

“I was not aware of this process. Proper procedure has not been followed, and this is an illegal procedure. An SMHDF board member has taken it upon himself after misleading another board member of the housing foundation who is unwell, and who was under the impression that the board member would speak with the me first about his plans to take this type of action,” Lake states in the press release.

While the minister is not mentioning names, there are reports that the recently appointed board member Elston Fos is behind the developments at the housing foundation. This newspaper called Fos for a comment yesterday, but he did not pick up his phone.

Currently the board consists of just two members: Fos and Roxanne Howell. Chairman Keith Franca resigned for personal reasons on October 10 and Leo Chance left the board five days later.

“The chairman of the board resigned some time back. On whose authority is this person acting? Two board members can’t take these types of decisions. The legal board is up to seven members,” according to Lake.

This is however incorrect: according to the articles of incorporation – drawn up on February 13, 2009 at the office of notary Mike Alexander in Curacao – the supervisory board consists of 5 members. “If the board consists of fewer than five members, the remaining members or the remaining members make up a legal board,” article 14 of the articles of incorporation states.

The minister states in the press release that he has asked Soab-management “to withdraw the current process with immediate effect” because it does not have his blessing and because it goes against proper procedure. “SMHDF does not have a complete board in place and as such a decision of that nature is not valid. I was informed after the fact, and this is not how you do things based on hearsay and not following the right procedure.”

While Minister Lake does not spell out the facts in his press release, it seems that the board has suspended director Henry Lynch.

Lake states in his press release that the unnamed board member informed him on Friday and that he handed him a copy of a letter served on director Lynch, dated Thursday, December 11.

“The Council of Ministers has already decided that it will leave the appointment of a new board for the SMDHF to the next Council,” the press release quotes Lake.

According to the articles of incorporation this is incorrect procedure. “When the number (of board members – ed.) is fewer than five, the board takes measures without delay to complete its membership,” the earlier mentioned article 14 clearly states. The board should have taken action immediately after the resignation of Chance and Franca in October. Waiting until there is a new government in place is therefore, to use the minister’s words, “not according to procedure.”

If the vacancies remain open longer than four months, the remaining board member or members are authorized to take action and to ask the Court in First Instance to appoint one or more board members.

“The country is on a slippery slope,” according to Minister Lake. “Everybody seems to be on a witch hunt and trying to bring each other down. This is sad to see. Some will sell their soul in order to get into government. This type of thing has to stop. We need to raise the bar in politics.  It’s wrong to slander people left and right on social media, and people go along with the melee thinking it’s a fact. With this statement I set the record straight.”

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