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Published On: Fri, Oct 14th, 2022

Suspended GEBE-director Temmer wants his job back

PHILIPSBURG -- Merrill Temmer wants to be reinstated as the managing director of utilities company GEBE. This appears from a letter the law office of Berman/Keuning has sent to GEBE’s supervisory board and to the Council of Ministers. Temmer was suspended for reasons that the letter describes as “improper.”

From December 2021 until August 22, 2022 Temmer functioned “as a representative of the supervisory board for the management of matters that could not be delayed. “It seems that Temmer is being reproached for not having created and executed a proactive policy, while he was not appointed for that reason,” the letter from the attorneys states.

But the impression is being created that Temmer has acted carelessly, especially in the aftermath of the Blackbyte ransomware attack on March 17 of this year. Blackbyte demanded that GEBE pay a ransom. The letter points out that Temmer has reported in the past that GEBE’s digital infrastructure was insufficient.

Aurora Infotech investigated the attack and concluded that a lack of management and upkeep made it possible for Blackbyte to hit the company. Its report also mentions a lax security posture. “There was little security protection on the servers or the Fortinet firewalls, because the FortiGuard Security subscription had expired.”

“The neglect of duty by the shareholder and the supervisory board cannot be attributed to Temmer,” the letter states.

The attorneys found another shortcoming. The supervisory board has to consist of at least three members but there are only two. Therefore, resolutions from the board, and the required research and debate that precede them, do not meet the statutory and legal requirements. “The ransomware attack could take place because of neglect of the statutory obligations of the shareholder and the supervisory board.”

The letter mentions that the supervisory board congratulated Temmer on August 26, 2022, with the successful conclusion of his security examination. On September 2, Temmer started as GEBE’s managing director.

There are no proven indications of reprehensible actions by Temmer and therefore “the suspension is not what a reasonable supervisory board would normally do." The letter instead hints at a darker motive.

“The course of action you have chosen testifies of practicing politics with the objective to victimize Temmer and to paint him as the one responsible for the problems, so that the shareholder and the supervisory board can claim their innocence. The prime minister has emphasized this by telling our client that, regardless of the outcome, she will do what needs to be done.”

The letter also contests the appointment of Troy Washington as temporary manager. Temmer annulled that decision, but the supervisory board nevertheless installed him. There is a problem: GEBE’s articles of incorporation only offer a provision for the appointment of a temporary special envoy by the shareholder in case there is a conflict of interest between GEBE, a director or the shareholder.

“This does not mean that the shareholder on its own initiative can appoint a researcher for an investigation and then say that therefore a conflict of interest is possible. Then this is used as the basis for an alleged conflict of interest for which the appointment of the envoy would be appropriate. It may be clear that such a circular way of reasoning does not make any sense.”

Temmer will recommend the initiation of an inquiry procedure to the prosecutor’s office, akin to the one that was done with Aqualectra in Curacao.

The letter concludes: that Temmer has informed the prosecutor’s office, the police and the supervisory board to the best of his abilities, that the shareholder and the supervisory board contribute to reputational damage for Temmer with financial damages as a result, that the appointment of Troy Washington as temporary manager is invalid and that Temmer has been suspended based on inappropriate grounds and against the best interest of the company.

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