Scot’s management construction with hospital is perfectly legal – Inspectorate engages in “unparalleled nitpicking”

POSTED: 11/19/12 1:55 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Whether the St. Maarten Medical Center has a contract with AnG Consulting or with AnG Consultancy does not matter at all. Legal experts this newspaper consulted label the fact that Inspector General Earl Best and his attorney Jairo Bloem made a point of this in their dispute with the medical center as “unparalleled nitpicking” and “legally in principle completely irrelevant.”

When Best repeated during a press conference on Friday that AnG Consulting is not registered at the Chamber of Commerce and that therefore the company does not exist, even though the medical center signed a contract with AnG Consulting this newspaper first double checked with hospital Director George Scot and for good measure also with his father, dentist dr. George Scot sr. Both confirmed that the contract is with AnG Consultancy. “I have seen the contract,” Scot sr. told us.

Hospital Director Scot does not understand the fuss about this contract either. “I did not write the contract, the supervisory council did. I just signed it,” he said.

The inspectorate has used the fact that AnG Consulting is not registered at the Chamber of Commerce as a tool to create the impression that hospital Director Scot is up to no good. “
It just shows how careless they have been in their investigation,” Scot says.

The day before the press conference, Scot provided this newspaper with copies of the registration of his company AnG Consultancy at the Chamber of Commerce. The company also has a crib number, meaning that it has been properly registered at the tax office.

But even if the name on the contract would have been AnG Consulting it has no relevance. “Slips of the pen occur regularly in contracts; on a regular basis firms are formally indicated incorrectly,” this newspaper understands from legal experts.

(Fictitious) examples are Vlaun & Sons NV instead of Vlaun & Son NV, Windward Roads NV instead of Windward roads BV, Princess Juliana Operating Company instead of the official name: Princess Juliana Exploitatiemaatschappij.

As longs as it is reasonably clear to all parties involved which firm they are talking about, these minor mistakes never have legal consequences.

The argument will not impress a judge, “unless the inspectorate is able to prove that there are two firms in St. Maarten: AnG consulting and AnG Consultancy,” our legal advisor notes. “But this is not the case because the inspectorate’s position is that AnG consulting does not exist.”

The inspectorate headlined the press release it issued on Wednesday with “Severe conflict of interest within the board of directors of the SMMC hampers improvement in quality of care.”

But what is really going on?

Based on the current civil code the relationship between a legal entity and its directors is an agreement of assignment and not – as was the case until 2004 – a labor relationship (employer-employee).

“It is very well possible,” this newspaper understands from legal experts, “that Scot is personally director of the SMMC and that there is an agreement of assignment with AnG Consultancy NV.”

In a court ruling dated January 25, 2010, the appointment of George Scot as the medical center’s director was confirmed. This ruling does not mention AnG Consultancy.

But professionals who make a relatively high income almost routinely offer their services via a public limited company, because this is fiscally attractive. It is a perfectly legal construction that does nothing to affect the integrity of the director.

The contract states, according to our sources, that only Scot personally is allowed to render the services agreed upon. It cannot be done by a random third party. This way, quality of service and professionalism is guaranteed – assuming that the inspectorate does not have a problem with Scot as a natural person as director.

The inspectorate’s requirement that only natural persons are allowed to be director of the hospital has in fact been met, our sources say, because Scot is the director – not AnG Consultancy NV.

The question remains why the inspectorate would even get into this issue, because the SMMC is a private foundation and there is no direct link between the construction used for the hospital-management and the interest of public healthcare.

Another question is obviously how a fiscally attractive construction – that is being used by countless professionals without any problem – amounts to a conflict of interest. The only role of AnG Consultancy is to make its director George Scot available as the director of SMMC.

The inspectorate has criticized the contract because it does not regulate how many hours Scot has to render services to earn his fee. The inspectorate also maintains that the performance of AnG Consulting NV (sic) will be evaluated by SMMC and thus in principle by the director of SMMC, namely Dr. G.A. Scot.”

This is an incorrect allegation: the company’s performance is evaluated by the supervisory council, not by Scot. The latter showed this newspaper a letter signed by the former chairman of the supervisory council, Clarence Richardson, that approves an annual bonus.

On Friday the inspectorate also painted a bleak picture of the situation in the hospital, referring to a lack of medical specialist and a heavy work overload. One of the claims made by Inspector General Earl Best was that the hospital currently does not have a radiologist. But on Saturday, we read in another daily newspaper a story that proves this statement to be incorrect. Vina Williams-Snijders worked in this function during the past week and from this week on one of the partners from her practice in the Netherlands starts working in St. Maarten for a longer period. Striking in the story was however the picture Williams-Snijder painted of the conditions at the hospital. “I am really impressed by the atmosphere. I had a great rapport with people who work here.” The radiologist also commended the hospitals clientele for showing so much patience. And in this hospital, the basic quality of care is in danger?

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