Published On: Tue, Apr 6th, 2021

The press release-parliamentarian

By Hilbert Haar

The press release-parliamentarian, aka independent MP Christophe Emmanuel, is at it again, together with his public relation officer, mini market-owner Michael Granger. In his umpteenth press release, Emmanuel once more seems to dance to the tune of his outside handlers who want one thing and one thing only: the dismissal of Princess Juliana International Airport Chief Executive Officer Brian Mingo.

This time, Emmanuel finds proof in an article of mine about the confidential Financial Baseline Report that Mingo is busy running the airport into the ground, happily ignoring the facts that inspired the airport-director to ask for such a report in the first place.

Related story: https://www.facebook.com/StMaartenNewsOnline/photos/a.1671749299783932/2681738532118332

Because let’s face it: what was the situation when Mingo started his tenure as the airport’s CEO in January 2019? He soon discovered that the company did not have a penny to its name. Nothing, nada. That proves that somebody had already run the airport into the ground before Mingo even started working there.

Related article: Report recommends external review of airport investments

Mingo ordered the report to figure out what on earth was going on at a company that had always been portrayed as successful and prosperous. And he was not the only one to wonder about the airport’s finances. In August 2019 Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson, at the time a parliamentarian for the St. Maarten Christian Party, asked in a meeting of parliament for a forensic audit. The financial Baseline Report became available in November 2019 and it asked for something quite similar.

Related article: Former MP Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson called already for a forensic airport-audit in 2019

But now Emmanuel bluntly accuses Mingo of “willfully hiding vital information while the airport was already in a precarious position.” Never mind that the Ernst&Young report was confidential. This is a concept Emmanuel does not understand, or does not want to understand.

Our independent MP also continues to accuse Mingo of “shady operational and financial decisions” without providing specifics other than suggesting that consultants have been receiving exorbitant salaries.

And then Emmanuel states in his press release, after observing that the airport has been a den of secrets for years: “To know something isn’t quite right and do nothing to correct the situation and in fact make it worse, makes you look even worse and your actions even more inexcusable.”

Let this sink in for a bit. Emmanuel has known for years that something wasn’t quite right at the airport and he points out that it makes you look bad if you don’t do anything to correct the situation. This begs the question: what did MP Emmanuel do to correct the situation? Wait until Mingo became the airport director and blame him for the wrongdoings of others?

And here is another issue: Emmanuel accuses Mingo of “showing utter disrespect by telling parliament he has no time to meet with us.” Coming from a parliamentarian who recently likened State Secretary Raymond Knops to Adolf Hitler, this is a bit rich because Mingo did show respect to parliament in the past by showing up for meetings, even though managers of government-owned companies are accountable to the responsible minister and not to parliament. So Mingo did not have to show up at all – and Emmanuel must know this.

Our independent MP also takes aim at the supervisory board of PJIAE describing it as “the power behind Mingo” that is “just as guilty.”

Emmanuel furthermore suggests that the legal representative on the supervisory board “was actually disbarred a few years ago and then re-admitted somehow due to the law firm she was associated with.”

That legal representative is attorney Kamla Besancon, a specialist in corporate law who worked for six years at VanEpsKunnemanVanDoorne, before establishing her own company KB Legal in 2018. There is no indication or publicly available information to suggest that she has ever been disbarred. “We are told that this person basically runs the airport and has influence over the CEO,” Emmanuel writes in his press statement.

And on and on it goes. “We are told” is not exactly a solid piece of information, if anything, it is highly suggestive but it fits the narrative Emmanuel supports.

It seems to be time for MP Emmanuel to tell the people who his outside handlers are and whose agenda he is promoting. And maybe the good MP could do everybody a service by asking the government to finally conduct that forensic audit former MP Peterson asked for in 2019. That would bring to light who the real culprits are in this sordid story.