Scandal at National Security Service – Checks and balances led to discovery of malversation

POSTED: 07/11/13 12:29 PM

St. Maarten- Did the head of the National Security Service VDSM James R. disappear without a trace? Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams declined to answer the question at yesterday’s press briefing. Late on Monday afternoon, the PM sent out a press release announcing an investigation into possible irregularities at the VDSM, but no details of the scandal have been released.

“My press release on this matter was somewhat cryptic and that was for a reason,” Wescot-Williams said. “I hate to have had to report something occurring at that particular service but I needed to do that. It is a fact.”

The PM said that the final report on the irregularities by the Government Accountant Bureau Soab is not completed yet. She asked for some leeway awaiting “decisions I will take regarding the findings in the report. I know there are a lot of stories out there, but I am sure that the minute I give one answer it will trigger more questions.”

Wescot-Williams said that the VDSM operates under specific management rules and control systems. In this system of checks and balances, the General Audit Chamber and an oversight committee play a role. “Because of the checks and balances that are in place we came up against the appearance of irregularities,” she said. “The oversight committee is not the only part of the system of checks and balances.”

The PM declined to be specific about what triggered the suspicions of malversation that led to an investigation by the Soab.

The oversight committee consists of two independent judges from the Common Court of Justice in Curacao. Selma Verheijen, a judge specialized in civil and administrative law chairs the oversight committee. The vice-chair is Albert Beukenhorst, a bankruptcy judge who handled amongst others a creditors meeting in the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Securities N.V. in Curacao in December of last year. The third member of this committee is the vice-chair of the Council of Advice, Mavis Brooks-Salmon. The president of the parliament is also a member, but there is currently draft-legislation under consideration to change this.

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