St. Maarten Finance Minister Shigemoto had no right to kick advisor Pandt out of meeting

POSTED: 04/13/11 12:20 PM

Donner: “Cft determines who its advisors are”

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto was wrong when he kicked Cft board member Max Pandt out of a meeting on February 23, Kingdom Relations Minister Piet Hein Donner confirmed last month in an answer about St. Maarten’s financial situation to socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak.

Shigemoto forced Pandt to leave the meeting because he is on the Cft-board as the representative of the BES-islands, but Pandt maintains that he was in the meeting in St. Maarten as an advisor to the financial supervisor.

“The Board for Financial Supervision Cft determines who its advisors are, and which ones of them are involved in meetings between the Cft and the individual countries,” Donner wrote in his answers to Van Raak on March 8.

The Minister wrote that “the refusal of the minister to admit an advisor of the Cft was an incident. The Cft reserves the right to be accompanied by advisors during meetings with government officials of the countries St. Maarten and Curacao.”

On the same day Donner sent his answers to the Second Chamber, Pandt held a press conference in St. Maarten to express his dissatisfaction with Shigemoto’s action. After that venture into the public eye, Pandt promised the Cft that he would refrain from making statements to the media.

But on March 8 he described how his expulsion from the meeting went down. Shigemoto received Pandt together with the other Cft-members at first without making any comment. “When the advisors came in, I was already sitting close to the door,” Pandt said at the time. “I had a premonition. (Maarten) Hassink (an advisor to the government – ed.) said to me: What are you doing here you are not with the St. Maarten group. And I answered, it’s better to have the devil in the house than on the outside. Within minutes Shigemoto wanted me out.”

In an email exchange between Pandt and Shigemoto, the finance minister wrote: “Because the board member we nominated (Michael Soons – ed.) still has not been appointed, while we know that the Kingdom Council of Ministers needs to handle this, we do not approve of replacing the board members we nominated by whomever. If there are objections against the member we nominated we want to receive an official communication based on facts.”

Minister Donner made clear in his answer to Van Raak that the candidate nominated by St. Maarten is unacceptable. St. Maarten has not appointed a representative on the Cft board yet, the Minister wrote, “because in the opinion of the Kingdom Council of Ministers, it has not nominated a suitable candidate.”

Margo Vliegenthart, who chaired the meeting, wrote in a later email to Shigemoto that the Cft valued Pandt’s presence because of his expertise. “This is not about replacing the member of St. Maarten. Mr. Pandt is a member of the board for Financial Supervision nominated by the BES. He obviously does not take part in the decision making about St. Maarten but because of his expertise he is valuable for our work and as far as we are concerned he must be able to attend these meetings as an observer.”

After Pandt’s press conference, the Cft issued a tersely worded press release stating that Pandt’s statements in the media “are of Mr. Pandt’s own account and are no reflection of the board’s opinion.”


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