St. Maarten commits to 50-year pact for Ennia pension policyholders’ relief | THE DAILY HERALD

CBCS president Richard Doornbosch (second from left) with on the left CBCS executive director Jose Jardim, and on his right Curaçao Prime Minister Gilmar Pisas, Curaçao Minister of Finance Javier Silvania, St. Maarten Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion and, via Zoom, St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs during the signing of the outline agreement and press conference.


~ Paying NAf. 2.3 million annually ~

PHILIPSBURG–Beginning in 2027, St. Maarten will commit to an annual payment of NAf. 2.3 million for 50 years, as part the resolution devised jointly by the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten for the benefit of Ennia's 30,000 pension policyholders who fell victim to shareholder misconduct. The conclusive agreement was officially endorsed by authorities on Thursday and was formally unveiled by the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS).

The signatories of the outline agreement are envisioning revitalisation for Ennia, whereby the successful segments of the insurer's operations will be seamlessly transitioned to a newly established entity. The problematic branch of the insurer, Ennia Leven, will receive financial backing from both countries, with a modest contribution in dividend from CBCS, tasked with ensuring effective oversight to avoid past pitfalls.

St. Maarten has pledged NAf. 115 million spanning the years 2027 to 2077, demonstrating a long-term commitment to Ennia’s stability. Prime Minister Gilmar Pisa’s government in Curaçao has committed to an annual contribution of NAf. 30 million from tax revenues, totalling NAf. 1.5 billion until 2077.

Pisas emphasised the significant financial investment, but underscored the potential dire consequences if Ennia were to collapse. With approximately 25,000 policyholders residing in Curaçao, the loss of their pensions could plunge many below the poverty line, leading to a sharp decline in purchasing power, loss of businesses and subsequent rise in unemployment on the island.

Moreover, Pisas highlighted Ennia’s substantial contribution of 16.6 million guilders in social premiums to Curaçao’s tax revenue annually, effectively reducing the government’s net contribution to the new Ennia to NAf. 13.4 million.

To safeguard against future disruptions and to prevent any discounts on insurance policies, long-term financial commitments from Curaçao, St. Maarten, and the CBCS are being solidified. This includes the establishment of a Resolution Fund, ensuring stability and security for Ennia’s policyholders.

“Today is a very special day for both countries, as with this outline agreement we made it so that what seemed impossible is now possible,” said St. Maarten Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs, who attended the signing of the agreement via Zoom. “We went through the wringers, it was a difficult negotiation. When things seemed its most bleak, in September 2023, our negotiation team thought we were going to face serious challenges; however, a new solution based on collaboration could be discussed.

Considering that Curaçao and St. Maarten are part of the kingdom of the Netherlands, these small islands have to be there for each other, Jacobs said. “As St. Maarten is home to only 3.000 of Ennia’s policyholders, we could easily have said, ‘This is a Curaçao problem.’ But Curaçao and St.

Maarten are tied at the hip. The Central Bank is our mutual bank and therefore the situation of the policyholders on St. Maarten and on Curaçao is our challenge and our responsibility.”

The financial mismanagement at Ennia unfolded under the oversight of regulatory bodies the Dutch Central Bank (DNB) and CBCS. It was not until 2010, five years after Hushang Ansary’s Parman Group acquired Ennia, that issues began to surface. However, it took an additional two years before CBCS initiated stringent measures to address Ennia’s shortcomings. Only in July 2018 was Ennia placed under the CBCS emergency scheme due to a significant capital shortfall, leading to the formation of the ENNIA Technical Committee (TCE) charged with navigating the crisis.

Despite his prominence in the United States and connections to Republican circles and influential figures like the Bush family and Henry Kissinger, Ansary lacked the requisite experience in managing insurance and pension businesses like Ennia. In 2023, court documents revealed that Ansary had redirected up to a billion guilders from Ennia for personal enrichment, including investments in other enterprises, luxury travel, dubious payments to associates, and contributions to conservative causes in the United States.

Presently, the CBCS is pursuing legal recourse against Ansary in Texas to reclaim the substantial funds owed to Ennia.

CBCS Executive Director Jose Jardim emphasised that the outline agreement is distinct from the ongoing legal disputes involving Ansary. Despite a favourable ruling in November 2021, awarding Ennia more than NAf. 1 billion, efforts persist to secure full restitution from Ansary and his affiliated entities.

Moreover, St. Maarten Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion, present in Curaçao for the outline agreement signing, affirmed St. Maarten’s approval of the potential sale of Mullet Bay, owned by Ennia Caribe Investments with a 93.3% stake. Irion emphasised that any potential sale of Mullet Bay would involve St. Maarten’s participation in the negotiation process.

Source: The Daily Herald