Richardson’s position on the line

POSTED: 09/12/13 11:34 AM

St. Maarten – The position of James Richardson as head of the National Security Service of St. Maarten (VDSM) clearly can no longer be maintained, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said during yesterday’s Council of Ministers weekly press briefing.

The beleaguered VDSM is currently entangled in a controversy because a huge amount of money has disappeared. The government accountant bureau (SOAB) started investigations into the service earlier this year and upon completion, reported to the prime minister that there were irregularities at the service with regard to money that should have been used for operations. At the heart of the controversy Richardson was thought to have first fled the country, but this proved untrue.

One of SOAB’s recommendations was to give Richardson, the opportunity “to substantiate or give elucidations” on its findings. Yesterday, the prime minister declined to respond on whether Richardson has since admitted to any wrong doing but said that she hopes to provide a report to the general public on the status of service’s operations.

“I hope that at an appropriate moment to provide a report but not in details as far answering some of the questions that are out there as far as that service is concerned.”

Government still needs to communicate its termination intention to Richardson and he will be given a chance to respond via a hearing. In the meantime, the prime minister, who bears responsibility for the service, says she is still to decide on a new head of St. Maarten’s Secret Service.

“What I do think is important at this time is to have someone in place who can create a tranquility in this service and then go over to the appointment of a head in this service. You may see a sort of interim situation where we get things back on a quieter level internally,” she explained.

The first signs about irregularities had surfaced in April. The suspicions of irregularities led to the decision to have the government accountant bureau investigate the books of the National Security Service.

The prime minister was also happy to report that the oversight committee for the VDSM has begun its work.

“The members of the oversight committee for the National Security Service of St. Maarten were on the island and started their consultations. I have also met with the chair and vice chair of this committee they have been briefed by the service and provided with all necessary information and thus their work has begun,” the prime minister said.


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