PHILIPSBURG–Independent Member of Parliament (MP) Christophe Emmanuel said on Wednesday that a dossier of complaints and allegations made by Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA) now-suspended chief operating officer (COO) Michel Hyman against the chief executive officer (CEO) and the supervisory board SBOD of operating company PJIAE was submitted to the Council of Ministers (COM) and the President of Parliament in June 2019.
However, after checking, sitting President of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten said nothing had been booked in at Parliament.
“It has been checked [and] verified and this document (the one referred to by MP Emmanuel) is not booked in at Parliament. We have confirmed that the signatures do not belong to any staff member who usually signs off on documents that arrive at Parliament. Nor does it belong to the former President of Parliament. This document is neither registered in the logbook that is held at the reception. Hence this document was not booked in,” said Heyliger-Marten.
Emanuel said most of Hyman’s complaints and allegations are outlined in more than 15 letters in which he warned that actions by the Supervisory Board of Directors and the CEO Brian Mingo were not in keeping with the law, the Civil Code of St. Maarten and the PJIAE’s Articles of Association.
Emmanuel questioned why MPs were not provided with the dossier, why COM had never made the dossier public and whether anything at all was done based on the information in the dossier. “There are signatures to indicate that the documents were delivered and received,” he said.
He said the dossier, complete with copies of emails, WhatsApp chats, copies of contracts, legal letters, etc., would have been useful to MPs when the airport was the subject of heated debates in Parliament in 2019, 2020 and 2021, including when Mingo was dismissed only to be given his job back a short while after.
Emmanuel also asked the Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) whether the audit commissioned by the holding board of PJIA (PJIAH) in December 2021 was specifically ordered based on information provided to PJIAH by Hyman and whether this audit includes a forensic investigation into the spending and management practices of the airport CEO.
“This dossier would have given MPs context and further expose that the CEO of the airport, as I have said before, is bad for the airport,” Emmanuel said. “To put it plainly, this information, diligently compiled by Mr. Hyman who saw it as his duty to report what is happening at PJIA, was purposely hidden and not provided to MPs or disclosed to the public. I want to repeat, it was signed for when it was delivered to COM and to the former President of Parliament in 2019.”
He added that answers must be provided about two apartments the CEO rented for alleged business purposes, a cost overrun of 125 per cent for the construction of a bar at PJIA, why the CEO hired an active TelEm employee to oversee projects at PJIA and the bidding processes and outcomes of several projects at the airport, among other things.
“Here we have a CEO who found it hard to give air traffic controllers even five per cent of what PJIA owes them, apparently settling for just three per cent. Just three per cent, which in the end amounts to just NAf. 300 guilders per employee a month. But the CEO can spend lavishly on himself and apparently overspend at the airport.
“There are people who Hyman believed would have done something about the situation once he provided them with information and nothing happened. But today he is suspended. Answers must be provided and I won’t stop until I get them,” Emmanuel said.
Hyman’s complaint letters also alluded to Mingo’s unauthorised spending, such as US $2,400 on a limousine in New York, which prompted Emmanuel to revisit an issue with which he had already confronted the Prime Minister, but had never received answers and/or clarification.
Emmanuel reminded Parliament that the PM had indicated in 2021 that PJIAE would conduct an inquiry into Mingo’s use of the company’s credit card, a total that came up to approximately NAf. 300,000 in just over a year. To date, he said, no explanation had been received. He asked: “ Did this investigation ever take place? If yes, what were the results of the investigation? More specifically, did the CEO of the airport use the airport’s credit card for personal and family use?
“If yes, please indicate how much his personal spending on the credit card amounted to and how much did the corporate spending amount to? Has the SBOD taken any sanctions against the CEO of the airport as a result of his credit card spending? If yes, please detail what these sanctions are? Did the SBOD reduce the limit on the CEO’s company credit card?”