St. Maarten members of parliament question Shigemoto on bond row

POSTED: 02/29/12 2:07 PM

St. Maarten – The two members of the Democratic Party faction – Roy Marlin and Petrus Leroy de Weever – and independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge have sent Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto a letter with 25 questions on the matter of issuing bonds via the Central Bank. Only the last question relates to the recent $150 million bond floated by the Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten on behalf of the St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies.

Recent media reports about the bond for the Harbour Group, the February 21, 2012 letter of Curacao’s Finance Minister Jorge Jamaloodin and the February 27 reply sent by Shigemoto are the stated reasons for the three MPs to seek clarification from the minister. The successful issue of that bond has led to questions in Curacao and an accusation from that country’s Finance Minister George Jamaloodin that proper procedure was not followed because he was not consulted before the bond was floated.

“I have heard that the Port of St. Maarten, through its agent AIC, has successfully completed a bond for the development of the port on St. Maarten. The Central Bank of Curacao and St. Maarten has now offered a repurchase facility and this is reported on the bank’s website. It is unacceptable that I have been able to learn of this only after,” Jamaloodin wrote in a letter to the Central Bank’s three member management council.

The letter, which has also been sent to Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Shigemoto, and the governors of Curacao and St. Maarten – Frits Goedgedrag and drs Eugene Holiday, also states, “Depending on the involvement of the board of directors at the conclusion of the repurchase facility and depending on the personal involvement of individual members of your board to that conclusion, I hereby, within the legal frame you, hold each of you personally liable for possible damage to Curacao from this repurchase facility.”

Questions

The two DP MPs and Illidge have requested Shigemoto provide information on the bonds issued by the Central Bank for 2008, 2009 and the period from January 1, 2010 up to and including October 10, 2010 and the period between October 10, 2010 and the end of February, 2012. The overview should include the beneficiary agencies of the bonds, whether the government provided guarantees for the bonds, how the investments were divided, the interest rates and conditions on these bonds and the duration of the bonds. The MPs also want information on the people agencies that arranged the bonds, how many of the bonds are in the hands of institutional investors and how much is the hands of Central Bank, the risks and liabilities for governments and ministers specifically associated with guaranteeing a bond, whether or not the beneficiary agencies of bonds had submitted approved annual accounts for 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 and for the minister to provide these audited accounts.

The questions also cover building up reserves and ability to pay back, the status of the bond for the Curacao Road Fund, whether or not other agencies in St. Maarten and Curacao have requested bonds, whether the loan amounts fall within the established collective sector, which dictates government’s ability to borrow or guarantee loans, the risks for Aqualectra to repays its recent bond, considering that electricity tariffs there have been lowered, whether or not the recent purchase of the BOO plant is not against the terms of the bond issue for Aqualectra, whether the government of each country must be involved in approving a bond for an instance in another country, whether or not St. Maarten or Curacao has approved any bonds and who within the Central Bank is responsible for the approval of bonds. The three MPs also want to know if it is a requirement for Supervisory Board to give their approval for issuing bonds and if they have no role they want an explanation of Jamaloodin’s position that procedure was not followed. The MPs also want to know if Shigemeto is prepared to point out to Jamaloodin that has an incorrect interpretation of the law, if it is shown that proper procedure was followed in acquiring the bond for the Harbour Group.

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