Newspaper reveals fraud and mismanagement at DAE

POSTED: 01/3/12 4:20 PM

WILLEMSTAD – The Antilliaans Dagblad reported last week that millions of dollars have disappeared at the heavily subsidized Dutch Antilles Express airline DAE. The newspaper obtained documents that suggest mismanagement and theft at the company.

The newspaper quotes from correspondence between Lex Gonzales, the attorney of former DAE-owner Niek Sandmann and Nelson Ramiz, a Cuban-American businessman who is interested in DAE.

Ramiz wrote to Gonzales that “the mismanagement – not to call it theft or embezzlement, because that is up to the court to decide – of DAE’s most recent management has cost several millions of dollars.” For good measure, Ramiz adds, “This company has been a cow that has been milked by people who never invested a penny in it.”

Ramiz’ remarks refer to Arnold Leonora, the Antilliaans Dagblad wrote last week. Leonora took over DAE from Sandmann last week and disappeared after a couple of months. He brought former Lt. Governor Stanley Betrian and Frank Weise on board. The government owned Development Bank Korpodeko forced the appointment of Gianni Schob as statutory director. Korpodeko has invested 12 million guilders in the airline.

The AD also quoted from a report by Ramon Chong who investigated DAE for Ramiz. The report suggests that there are grounds for a criminal investigation into the mismanagement.

There are also strong indications that Leonora stayed for months at the luxurious Marriott Hotel at DAE’s expense, and that he took money from DAE-accounts at the Banco Mercantil in Caracas for private use.

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