Published On: Sat, Sep 24th, 2022

Mark Mingo prepares multi-million dollar claim for damages

PHILIPSBURG — Former Port-director Mark Mingo and his attorney Cor Merx are preparing a multi-million dollar claim for damages against the Government, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Harbor Group of Companies.

Merx indicated at a press conference in his office that the claim could be worth anywhere between $3.5 and $5 million dollars.

“Everybody thought that Mingo was the big fish in the malversations at the harbor,” Merx said. “But he was only a side-catch. The real bad people at the harbor were Theo Heyliger and Ton van Kooten. Not Mingo but other people were the rotten apples in the basket of the harbor.”

Mingo maintained a relaxed attitude at the press conference, saying that the dispute is now a legal matter. “I have to move on with my life. After five years I expect at least a response from the government. There have been some discussions, but nothing formal. Merx sent a letter to the government on August 19, but until today we have not received any reaction. That is one of the reasons why we are sitting here today.”

Mingo said that he favors an out-of-court settlement.

“Mr. Mingo has suffered a lot and we have prepared a multi-million dollar claim,” Merx said. “The government made a mistake by naming Mingo as a statutory director, but he has been working for the port since 2002. He has a labor contract. It is very important to understand that.” After being employed for 17 years at the Port, Mingo was fired in April 2020 by a decision of the Council of Ministers (COM).

Merx explained that the civil code changed in 2004 and that ever since that time directors can be fired by the shareholder. The supervisory board agreed with the government to fire Mingo as a statutory director, a position he obviously did not have.

Merx added that Mingo’s contract contains a provision that the harbor would pay for legal expenses, but that the harbor has not lived up to that commitment: Mingo has had to pay his legal expenses himself.

Another beef is with the Prosecutor’s Office that put a lien on Mingo’s house in Guana Bay and later sold it under the market price, leaving only a mere $60,000 US Dollars over. Mingo currently lives with his mother and he drives an old Toyota Corolla.

Investigators also claimed that Mingo transferred money to his 17-year old son in Switzerland. But Mingo does not have a 17-year old son: His ex-wife and his two children (a son and a daughter) currently live in the Netherlands.

On June 29, 2017, Mingo was suspended as the director of the Harbor Group of Companies after his arrest on June 9, 2017, while an investigation into fraud with invoices was underway. Mingo spent a total of 22 days in jail while being interrogated. According to the prosecutor’s office these invoices were inflated and they were signed for payment by Mingo. Between 2013 and 2017, the prosecutor’s office claimed, the harbor was robbed of around $7 million through these invoices.

However, the contested invoices were first checked by Chief Financial Officer Ton van Kooten before he gave them to Mingo for his signature. Van Kooten has claimed that he was not the CFO at the harbor: he was just a manager. But his labor contract, dated October 1, 2009, states that Van Kooten is “employed with the holding as Chief Financial Officer as a member of the management team of the harbor group of companies.” The appointment was for a period of five years.

In the meantime, Mingo was dragged into the Emerald-investigation (about the fraudulent invoices) and initially sentenced to a 46-month prison sentence and a 6-year ban on holding any position at a government-owned company. The court also ordered him to repay close to $5 million.

But in June of this year, the appeals court acquitted Mingo of all charges.

Therefore, now Mingo wants payback. He said at the press conference that he has lost a million dollars worth of assets during his five-year long ordeal.

Merx made clear that the claim for damages is not about revenge: “We do not want revenge because that is not my style. But justice should be done.”

A total of seven prosecutors were involved in the Emerald investigation and court case and according to Merx ultimately one of these prosecutors will come forward to talk about the conspiracies involved in this case. Already one former US prosecutor in Florida has indicated in writing to Mingo: “You are being set up.”

If the government or any of the other parties involved in the claim refuse to pay after a court order, Merx and Mingo are ready for them. “In that case we will ask the court to force them to pay.”

Watch the full press conference online here.


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