Postal Services unable to pay damages to former director

POSTED: 07/6/14 6:59 PM

Court rules on liens placed on government bank accounts

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance will rule this afternoon on a request by Country Sint Maarten and Postal Services St. Maarten NV (PSS) to lift the lien on their bank accounts. Former PSS managing director Denicio Richardson placed the liens after he won a court case in June against PSS that awards him close to 430,000 guilders (around $240,000) in salaries, medical costs, collection costs, immaterial damages and legal costs.

The country and PSS have appealed the ruling of June 17. Shortly afterwards, Richardson placed a lien on all bank accounts at the Windward Islands Bank of both the country and PSS – but only for the amount the court ruling entitles him to.

Attorney Arnout Kraaijeveld told Judge Katja Mans that the country and PSS demand that the liens be lifted. “The money on those accounts is needed to execute public tasks. Placing a lien on all accounts is abuse of legal procedure. Blocking all accounts of PAS and the country is going too far.”

The attorney said that Richardson had not established his interest in keeping the liens in place, while on the other hand the interests of the country are significant. “This outs the country and PSS in an emergency situation,” he said.

Kraaijeveld noted that the fact that Richardson does not have any income right now poses a problem if the June 17 verdict is executed and the appeals court reverses the decision later on. “Then it will be a problem to claim the money back. The only solution would be to auction Richardson’s house.”

The attorney pointed out that the June 17 verdict is bases on apparent legal mistakes, without elaborating about the nature of these perceived mistakes.

Denicio Richardson, supported by his wife Vanessa, handled his own case with a solid and well-researched address to the court that caused Judge Mans to remark at a certain moment: “You did your homework well.”

Richardson said that he had been “chief, cook and bottle washer” all at the same time to keep the operation going at the postal services. Now, his former employer owes him a lot of money –around $240,000 according to the June verdict.

“I have suffered a lot of personal and financial hardship and I have problems finding another job,” Richardson continued, asking the court to deny the country’s and PSS’s request to lift the liens. “I have the right to execute the verdict,” he continued. “I have a family with two daughters to support. Now I am depending on family members. I have a mortgage to pay. My good name and reputation were slaughtered.”

Richardson noted that the country and PSS are both equally liable and that what is due to him is “a drop in the bucket” for the government. “The lien on the accounts is only for the amount awarded to me. It is not like the accounts are blocked.”

Richardson furthermore pointed out that country and PSS did not provide evidence that the liens affect the money they need for public services.

At times emotional, the former managing director said that the country refuses to settle the dispute and refuses to be reasonable. He referred to his unlawful suspension and to the fact that he had to quit his job. “The government has no interest in suspending this ruling,” he said. “The refund-risk is no reason to suspend the judgment. It is not fair that I have to suffer any longer. They are not acting in good faith.”

Richardson noted that PSS currently has one million guilders in cash and that the government also has reserves.

Judge Mans gave parties the opportunity to negotiate for an interim-settlement, but that did not yield any results. PSS financial director Alex Richardson told the court flat-out: “OSS is not in a position to pay. The solution is with the government. PSS does not have the money it is still operating at a loss.”

“If PSS has to pay, there is a risk that it will be unable to pay salaries,” attorney Kraaijeveld added.

Denicio Richardson had the last word. “We should never have been here at all,” he said. “The 10-10-10 rush demanded expertise. I was called to help my country without any guarantees in place. Maybe PSS has no money but there are two parties involved. This should be about what is right.”

 

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Comments (1)

 

  1. Monies says:

    Monies, please there are loads of money in the reserves. They just don’t want to pay because they lost the case out right. He is a local, an educated local at that, all he wanted was to serve his island as best as he could and give back.

    This is a shame, shame on the government! There should be law in place that when it boils down to situations like this that the government loses a court case instead of having the government (we the tax payers) pay for the stupidity of a ministers decision it should come out of the salaries of the minister. I will place my head on a block that lesser mistakes will happen and more due diligence will be before making such a decision.

    Please just pay the him what he deserves no one should have to suffer. He did home work your failings have been pointed out on more than one occassion just accept and move on and learn from your mistakes!

    Een ezel stoot twee keer aan hetzelfde steen!