Today’s Opinion: Email exchange

POSTED: 05/17/11 12:15 PM

Email exchanges between Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto and the fired head of the finance department Bas Roorda have shed some light on the atmosphere at the ministry. On March 30, shortly before five o’clock in the afternoon, Shigemoto emailed Roorda with the following text:
“Today I was informed by the secretary of the Council of Ministers that you have filed a report with the Public Prosecutor Mr. H. Mos with regard to alleged wrongdoing by several civil servants at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Tourism. You also informed the secretary that you will be reporting this to the Netherlands. All of this while you have not reported this to the Minister of Finance and/or the Council of Ministers. Under which authority are you reporting this to the Netherlands, and based on what are you doing so while you still have not discussed it or shown anything to the Minister of Finance or the Council of Ministers? I would advise you not to do anything against the rules and regulations of the government of St. Maarten.”
The following morning, at 8.38 a.m. Roorda replied to the minister as follows. “Hiro, there has been an investigation into the travel behavior of a number of civil servants and that results in a complaint for embezzlement. I am not able to report this to the Netherlands, and I have not said that, but I did mention it to Kingdom Relations, BAK, in the context of the ongoing integrity program. I have reported the case to Secretary General De Weever and to my own Secretary General Hazel. That is my line of reporting. There is no question that I violated any rule.”
In a statement written last week Wednesday, two days before Friday’s court hearing, Shigemoto noted: “I was not pleased about the fact that a civil servant within my ministry, the head of finance, is informing third parties outside of the government of St. Maarten about alleged irregularities of other civil servants without me as minister being properly informed about the situation.”
But, as we heard in court on Friday, Roorda’s dismissal has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that he filed a complaint about the embezzlement suspicions at the office of the public prosecutor.

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