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Published On: Sat, Jun 12th, 2021

Attorney Bloem refutes allegations from GEBE board member Richardson

PHILIPSBURG -- Attorney Jairo Bloem is preparing his response to allegations of wrongdoing expressed by the former chairman of the supervisory board of utilities company GEBE, Bienvenido Richardson. “I can already tell you that, apart from Bienvenido’s remark that I do not invoice monthly but periodically, from two to three times a year, everything else he claims is absolutely untrue.”

Bloem is currently attempting to get permission from the supervisory board of directors to defend himself publicly against Richardson’s allegations. Without that permission, this is not possible because he is bound by confidentiality rules.

Richardson expressed his concerns about what is happening at GEBE in a letter dated June 8, addressed to the Council of Ministers in general and to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs in particular. Richardson’s tenure as a board member is “nearing the end date” as he formulates it.

He became a board member on July 20, 2017, and was appointed chairman of the board shortly afterwards, on August 15.

The current board consists next to Bienvenido Richardson of Conrad Richardson, Kenneth Serrant, Safira Ibrahim, Nina Diaz and Denicio Boasman.

“My experiences leave me with great concern regarding the decision making of the members,” Richardson states in his letter.

Richardson questions the expertise of the current board members and of the three members of GEBE’s audit committee: “They indicated that they were experienced in the financial and auditing field, but within a short time it was proven that this was not so.”

Attorney Safira Ibrahim “barely attended” board meetings which made Richardson decide to hire external legal expertise from the law office of Bloem Aardenburg Bonapart.

“It was my intention to solely contract Mr. Bloem as needed,” Richardson writes, adding that soon other board members developed personal contacts with Bloem. “Most recently all board members make use of his services which possibly is all being charged to GEBE.”

Richardson states that he does not have a problem with Bloem, but in the same breath he accuses the attorney of “infiltrating the supervisory board of directors by virtually occupying the seat of the chair, manipulating the board members by dividing and conquering us along with questionable legal advice and excessive billing.” Richardson writes that he planned a board meeting where he wanted to table a motion to terminate the contract with Bloem. “Before I was able to execute this I was voted out as chairman and Mrs. Diaz was appointed as the chairlady.”

Richardson charges that Bloem functioned not as a legal advisor but as “an extended board member” who used the lack of experience of other board members to influence decisions. As an example, the letter mentions that Bloem “took the lead during negotiations about the selection of candidates,” rather than leave this to the recruitment committee.

Richardson furthermore accuses other board members of breaching the articles of incorporation, the corporate governance code and the rules of good governance. “I distance myself from many of the actions taken by this supervisory board of directors and I do not want to be held responsible for them.”

Richardson ends his letter by asking the shareholder “to do what is necessary to ensure that the available expertise, independence, integrity and dedication are again embodied within the supervisory board of directors..”

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