Roorda files lawsuit against government

POSTED: 09/9/11 2:04 PM

Former Head finance department fights unreasonable dismissal

GREAT BAY, St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The attorney for Bas Roorda will file lawsuit in the coming days against the government of St. Maarten that seeks to declare his dismissal head of the finance department void. The lawsuit also seeks to establish that the government gave a phony reason for the dismissal. In the course of this procedure, witnesses will be heard in a public hearing – among them Justice Minister Roland Duncan and Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto.
Attorney mr. Wim van Sambeek told this newspaper yesterday that the lawsuit had to be filed within six months after the dismissal. “Four months have passed already,” he said. Van Sambeek expects that the case will go to court in about a month.
“The primary demand is to have the dismissal voided. The Minister cannot dismiss somebody who has a contract with the country. The Judge has ruled that this is possible on the basis of the audit ordinance, but I do not agree with that.”
Roorda will also argue in court that his dismissal was based on a phony reason and that this makes the dismissal unreasonable.
In May Judge mr. D.M. Thierry ruled that the dismissal is legal. When news broke about the dismissal in April, it appeared that the dismissal letter accused Roorda of violating his oath of secrecy. Shortly afterwards, Justice Minister Duncan claimed that Roorda had been fired for insubordination.
Roorda’s attorney mr. Maarten le Poole immediately reacted by saying that the ground for dismissal were fabricated.
Roorda filed a complaint at the prosecutor’s office about embezzlement at the Tourist Bureau. The complaint mentions the former head of the Bureau, Regina Labega who has since been appointed as the director of the airport, marketing head Edward Dest and former Tourism Commissioner and now Member of Parliament Frans Richardson. The embezzlement investigation is in full swing but it has not been completed yet.
The government has always denied that it fired Roorda because he filed the complaint. Instead, it accused him of leaking confidential information to the financial supervisor Cft. However, on closer inspection it turned out that the Cft had had this information already for some time and that there was therefore nothing confidential about it.
In court the government contested that Roorda was the liaison with the Cft, but this statement was contradicted by Geert Bergsma, who was at the time the Cft’s secretary. Bergsma now works for the tax inspectorate in St. Maarten. “As the head of the finance department he was a key player in the contacts with the Cft,” Bergsma said in April. “He was the official contact on the civil servant-level we spoke with.”
Former Finance Commissioner Xavier Blackman, who hired Roorda in 2010 as “a financial heavyweight” also, confirms that Roorda was the Cft-contact, Roorda’s attorney Van Sambeek said.
In the beginning of May, Roorda left St. Maarten out of concern for his personal safety, but he returned to attend his court case.

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