Published On: Sat, Jan 21st, 2023

Cadastre is no stranger to controversy – Part 2

PHILIPSBURG — The Cadastre office on Back Street is no stranger to controversy. More than six years ago, in December 2016, internal correspondence revealed that it was run by incompetent people and notorious trouble makers. That its current director Shaka Lake has been suspended over accusations of irregularities adds just another chapter to the Cadastre’s troubled past.

In 2016 there were no locals on the management team: they hailed from Statia and the Netherlands. It was therefore not quite so curious that Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel, who has a record of promoting the appointment of locals in top positions, donned a tee shirt with the text: Marcia Peterson-Richardson for director, followed by the hashtag #sxm first. Peterson is a Simpson Bay-born local St. Maartener.

According to Clemens Roos, who held the directors-position until he was fired in 2015, Peterson does not have the qualifications for the job. Peterson, at the time the guardian of the Cadastre system, is described in correspondence as “constantly late and more on the internet and her phone” than doing actual work.

Peterson’s performance as financial manager also fell short of expectations. Management found differences in the registration fees for several deeds and an astonishing difference of 125,000 guilders between the production of extracts and the corresponding revenue. In other words: money was leaving the building and nobody knew where it went.

The correspondence also revealed that Peterson followed a $10,000 MBA course at the University of Liverpool at the Cadastre’s expense. Up to 2015 she had not repaid a penny of these expenditures. The current status of this debt is unknown.

The details that emerged from the correspondence put more than one Cadastre-employee in a bad light. Before publication, the article was presented to former director Clemens Roos. He declined to comment but confirmed that the article was accurate.

Roos has a degree in geodetic engineering, specialized in cadastral systems and land registration. He also holds an MA in public administration, specialized in governance.

These qualifications are required for the position of director at the Cadastre. But Marcia Peterson did not have them and she never made it to the directors-chair. Instead, in January 2019, Marie de Weever was sworn in by Governor Holiday as the custodian for the land registry.

The current composition of the Cadastre supervisory board may raise some eyebrows as one of its former members is a sister of the now suspended director Shaka Lake (who is a son of independence promoter José Lake Jr.). These are the current members of the supervisory board: Claudio Buncamper, Nerissa Delarosa, Shameeka Kalmera, Michael Lake and Silvio Martes.

Up to 2019 the board consisted of chairman Louis Crastell Gumbs and three other members: Victoria Dubourcq, Nzinga Lake and Charlesworth Sydney.


Related articles:
The Cadastre in the news again – and it is not good – Part 1
MP Heyliger-Marten questions suspension of Cadastre-director

Publsiher’s Note: This article has been edited and updated by the Publisher due to an inaccurate statement that Marcia Peterson-Richardson was from St. Lucia. It is her mother who was from St. Lucia, a fact that has no further relevancy in this article.