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Published On: Fri, Jul 2nd, 2021

Blistering response to allegations from GEBE’s board member Bienvenido Richardson

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PHILIPSBURG -- Attorney Jairo Bloem has released a blistering response to accusations GEBE’s board member Bienvenido Richardson leveled at him in a letter dated June 8. Bloem did not react sooner because GEBE’s supervisory board first had to lift his duty to confidentiality.

To read Bloem’s unabridged statement, click here.

Bloem’s reaction turns the tables and squarely puts the blame for many wrongdoings not only on Richardson’s shoulders, but also on those of GEBE’s temporary manager Sharine Daniel. He has put all documentation in the hands of the public prosecutor for investigation.

Richardson accused Bloem in early June 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.”

Bloem notes in his statement that Richardson retained his services as a legal advisor to the supervisory board at the beginning of 2019. “I later understood that this was on the specific recommendation of Sharine Daniel, the head of the internal audit department.”

The attorney states that he has more than 176 pages of Whatapp-messages with Richardson that show the latter’s appreciation for his work. Rather than “infiltrating the supervisory board” as Richardson claims, Bloem states that Richardson invited him to attend board meetings and to “advise on various matters.” He further notes that his invoices were promptly approved by Richardson, “often within the hour.”

Bloem’s office also turned down several assignments, telling Richardson that particular issues would be best handled by the company lawyer or ”simply without lawyers.”

When the need for the appointment of a temporary manager came up, Sharine Daniel “immediately seriously started lobbying members of the supervisory board for the function,” Bloem states. “The supervisory board received notifications from Richardson that Daniel had to be appointed as the temporary manager as per - a representative - of the shareholder.”

The latter statement is a clear reference to VROMI-Minister Egbert Doran, the government’s shareholder representative for GEBE.

But Bloem was not convinced that Daniel was the ideal candidate: “Our office advised the supervisory board to seek alternatives and to only consider Daniel as a last resort.”

Instead, Bloem proposed to appoint a former chairman of the supervisory board, René Richardson for the job, referring to him as a man “with great experience and an excellent track record.” Bloem also suggested appointing René Richardson to a task force charged with producing a strategic business plan. “I stand by those solicited recommendations in the best interest of NV GEBE.”

Bloem then lists a series of shortcomings attributed to Daniel as temporary manager. According to his statement, she barely offered any feedback during the first six weeks of her tenure and refused to comply with contractual obligations towards GEBE.

The supervisory board established that Daniel misrepresented important facts on numerous occasions and she refused to share financial information with the St. Maarten Communications Union (SMCU). This particular action placed GEBE in a precarious position with the union.

Daniel also filed a criminal complaint against a union board member, but she withdrew the complaint the same day, Bloem reports in his statement.

The supervisory board appointed Daniel on November 1, 2020, but she stepped down on February 11, 2021. Devon Dembrook succeeded her.

Bloem also mentions “sudden directives” from the shareholder (a reference to Minister Doran) “when it came to personal contractual matters of Daniel that were already regulate by GEBE.”

When the attorney started advising about “the illegal and irregular behavior of Daniel and Bienvenido Richardson,” things changed. “We didn’t only have to suffer constant misrepresentations, false allegations, twisting of facts and pretending ignorance, but also media publications of deliberate fabrications.”

Information that leaked from GEBE board meetings to the media, in particular to the gossip website SMN-News, came from one source only, Bloem writes: Bienvenido Richardson. “The supervisory board mentioned at least five or six occasions whereby confidential information was leaked, directly after Bienvenido Richardson participated in meetings, and that such is not the case when he is not in attendance.” One sealed document “that was only in the hands of Bienvenido Richardson” leaked within thirty minutes to SMN-News.

Bloem furthermore notes that Richardson constantly expressed his minority position on matters discussed in the supervisory board to a third party.” The attorney notes that the prime minister is such a third party.

Richardson also distorted and misrepresented the facts about the strategic task force. “He is oblivious to minutes of meetings, recordings of meetings and the facts. He prefers to stay in his alternative reality spewing and repeating his fabrications.”

Bloem states that Richardson unduly pressured board members to change their position, threatening that the shareholder would send them home if they did not comply. “Richardson also informed the board members that the shareholder representative (Minister Doran) wants Mr. Temmer and Sharine Daniel appointed as the temporary manager.”

Lastly, Bloem states that Richardson has refused to sign the rules and regulations for the supervisory board that contains specific provisions about leaking.

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