MPs during Tuesday’s meeting.
Motion passed for investigation into
Ferrier’s ‘possible abuse of power’
PHILIPSBURG–Members of Parliament (MPs) passed a motion on Tuesday to have government “disallow any situation from existing” where Shipyard NV ends up being the ultimate holder of certain government-owned land in the Simpson Bay area near Princess Juliana International Airport (PJIA).
The motion also calls for “appropriate authorities” investigate “the possible abuse of power and/or forgery” of former Minister of Finance Michael Ferrier as it relates to a letter sent to the Council of Ministers indicating that he was a managing director and shareholder at Shipyard NV.
The motion, which was tabled by National Alliance (NA) MP Christophe Emmanuel, was passed by six votes for and three votes against, with opposition MPs voting for the motion and governing coalition MPs against.
The considerations of the motion said that Shipyard NV has been responsible for six pieces of government long-lease land numbered by certificates of admeasurement (63/1993; 210/1993; 279/1993; 185/2006; 186/2006 and 187/2006); that the right to the long lease of these properties expired September 21, 2018; and that correspondence from PJIA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Brian Mingo to the Council of Ministers has indicated that the airport still considers it crucial that this and other parcels of land be put under lease of the PJIA Holding Company (PJIAH) to secure future expansion plans.
The considerations further state that Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI Minister Miklos Giterson had informed Shipyard NV in a letter dated March 21 that the lease to these properties would not be renewed, especially considering the delinquency of payments.
In a letter to the Council of Ministers dated March 26, Ferrier acknowledged himself as one of the managing directors and shareholders of this property and much of the information in the letter was sent in false pretence, as evidenced by Chamber of Commerce extracts presented in parliament on Tuesday, and could be considered forgery.
The considerations also allude to penal code Section 2: 185, which states “The person guilty of forgery in writing or impersonation shall be punished by imprisonment of up to eight years or a fine of the fifth category, if committed in authentic documents.”
The motion said also that Shipyard NV and “one of its self-purported managing directors Michael Ferrier” have not lived up to its commitment to pay the lease, and now owes the country in excess of NAf. 1,250,700 and has shown no effort to make payments, and government is in urgent need of cash flow and payments of these arrears would greatly help the coffers of government.
“Shipyard NV to which Mr. Michael Ferrier claimed in his letter of March 26th, 2019, he is a shareholders and director, owes the government over a million guilders and he needs to go pay. That the former Minister of Finance has attempted to make use of his former position as Minister and current relationship to the current government to, by means of his letter dated March 26, strong-arm the Minister of VROMI to pull back his decision to cancel the lease of the Shipyard NV, which is in violation of article 2:185 of the penal code regarding false impersonation.”
The motion was passed at the end of the continuation of an urgent meeting on “Erfpacht” (long-lease) land. VROMI Minister Giterson answered a number of questions from MPs during the meeting. One of the questions asked was whether Ferrier or Shipyard NV had told Giterson to pull back his decision to not renew the lease agreement.
Giterson said the Shipyard proprietors had requested reconsideration of his initial decision to not renew the lease agreement with the company.
In response to a question on what the intention for the use of the land would be, if it is not returned to the lease-holder as they had requested, Giterson said all the properties along the Northern side of the PJIA runway are part of a mid- to long-term plan for the expansion of the Airport. In the short term, government wants to use a part of the land for the removal of shipwrecks from Simpson Bay Lagoon.
The World Bank has allocated funds for the Shipwreck Removal Project and this property has been identified by government as a suitable site for the project.
“There are no opportunities for anyone to obtain long lease on land in this area at the moment because of the expansion plans of the airport, which is considered a national interest.
“The only reason a mid-term lease renewal to the Shipyard would be considered is because they are an existing operation at the site. Furthermore, all issuance of permission to use land in the area should and is being granted with prior consultation and cooperation of the airport,” Giterson said in response to a question as to whether locals can apply for this land.
He said it is the intention to issue the land in long lease to PJIAH, while the PJIA may give a mid-term lease to the Shipyard. In this manner, PJIA’s long-term interests will be safeguarded. The premise of any land lease arrangement would be that the government will be able to use part of the land for the Shipwreck Removal Project, free of cost, Giterson noted.