Published On: Fri, Aug 25th, 2023

Over the Bank-saga: Former Minister Meyers violated principles of good governance

PHILIPSBURG — The Over the Bank Group is not entitled to the rights of long lease on parcel of land in Upper Princess Quarter, the Court in First Instance ruled on Wednesday. The Country took the group to court in a successful attempt to close the book on the Over the Bank-saga.

The Over the Bank Group consists of Naomi Kijzer, Mariska and Sergio Dias, Etienne Lake, Johishi Romney and Marcel Javois (Kijzer c.s.). Former VROMI-Minister Angel Meyers issued documents in 2016 that granted the group rights of long lease on parcels of land in the Over the Bank area. The documents mentioned the surface of the parcels but there was no Cadastral description. In 2016 the Cadastre created certificates of admeasurement at the expense of the group-members.

In August of 2016 Minister Meyers ordered Domain Affairs to formalize the long lease rights, but this never happened.

In 2017 there was a new minister at the helm of VROMI: Christophe Emmanuel. He wrote to Etienne Lake that no official decree had been issued and that therefore the right of long lease could not be established. Emmanuel also noted that there were no roads or infrastructure in place.

Four years later, the Minister of VROMI received an advice to agree with the issuance of rights of long lease to 25 citizens (not being Kijzer c.s.).

The country went to court asking for a ruling that Kijzer c.s. cannot derive rights from the promises made by Minister Meyers and that it is not bound by these promises because they violate the public order and the principle of good governance. A draft decree does not entitle someone to a decision to grant a right of long lease, attorney Zylene Bary argued on behalf of the government. She also noted that the promises made by Minister Meyers amount to departure policy.

The court acknowledged that Meyers granted the right of long lease to Kijzer c.s. “In principle this results in a title for the establishment of the right of long lease.” However, the ruling adds, this authority is not allowed to be executed if it violates the principles  of good governance, such as the equality principle.

This resulted in a clear conclusion: Meyers has issued rights of long lease randomly to young professionals. This is at odds with the equality principle. The country is not obliged to honor acts of improper governance.”

The ruling furthermore states that rights of long lease cannot be granted based on promises, because this violates the principles of equality and transparency and the ban on arbitrariness.

The court ruled that the country is not bound by the promises made by former Minister Meyers.

The Over the Bank group has to pay the costs of the procedure, a bit more than 3,200 guilders ($1,787).