PHILIPSBURG – The interim director of the Tourist Bureau, Rolando Brison, obtained a declaration of no objection from the police in 2016 when he was a candidate to become the director of the St. Maarten Tourism Authority, even though the selection committee was aware that he had “resigned rather than be terminated” from his position at Winair “due to the misappropriation of funds under his control.”
On August 16, 2016, the Today newspaper published an article based on documents it obtained, that Brison had embezzled more than $41,000 from Winair. The article appeared a few days after the Daily Herald published a picture showing Brison together with MP Silvio Matser and Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Ingrid Arrindell; the article suggested that Brison had just signed a one-year contract as the director of the STA.
A day later Vice Prime Minister Richard Gibson Sr. said at the weekly Council of Ministers press briefing that Brison had “not officially been appointed.” Gibson said that Minister Arrindell had made this statement in the Council of Ministers a day earlier in a reaction to the publication of the picture in the media.
Brison functions currently as the interim director of the Tourist Bureau after the supervisory board of the STA had refused to accept him as the director.
On Friday, it appeared that something was up with Brison’s current position, because he was absent from an event at the Infinity Restaurant in Oyster Pond where interim Minister of Tourism and Economic Affairs Cornelius de Weever signed an agreement with the first Vice President of the Collectivité of Saint Martin, Valérie Damaseau about close cooperation between the tourist bureaus from both sides of the island.
In a letter dated August 17, 2016 – therefore, after the picture of Brison, Matser and Minister Arrindell appeared in the media – Winair CEO Michael Cleaver wrote in a letter to the selection committee and the supervisory board of the STA that Brison had “resigned rather than be terminated” due to “the misappropriation of funds.” StMaartenNews.com has obtained a copy of this letter.
Brison was assistant to the chief pilot of Winair from 2008 until his departure on April 10, 2012. Tasked with crew scheduling, compliance with regulatory issues, updating and creating manuals as well as pilot training, Brison received a gross monthly salary of 3,960 guilders.
Also on August 17, 2016, attorney Peggy Ann Brandon summoned Brison in a letter to repay the money he had embezzled from Winair within seven days. Including collection fees and penalties, Brison owed at that date $49,476 to his former employer. StMaartenNews.com also obtained a copy of this letter.