Published On: Sun, Apr 4th, 2021

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

~ According to Chacho now it is time to open up Pandora’s Box ~

PHILIPSBURG — The call for an investigation into the finances of the Princess Juliana international airport Ernst&Young Advisory recommends in its confidential Financial Baseline Report echoes a request Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson, at that time a Member of Parliament for the St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP), made in August 2019.

Related article: Report recommends external review of airport investments

During a meeting of parliament about the situation at the airport Peterson asked Finance Minister Perry Geerlings “to undertake a forensic audit about what happened at the airport between January 2017 and August 2019.”

Video excerpt of former MP Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson calling for a full forensic audit at the airport.

“Over the years we have heard how lucrative and prosperous the airport was,” Peterson said in that parliament meeting. “After (Hurricane) Irma the airport seems to be almost bankrupt. Something does not make sense there.”

Watch more online here: https://www.facebook.com/claudechacho.peterson/videos/2070124736627523/

Peterson asked whether the airport was financially stable before Hurricane Irma hit on September 6, 2017. “How much money was there before Irma and what happened to that money?”

Relevant link: Py18-19 Public Meeting #34: State of affairs at the Princess Juliana International Airport (IS/1371/2018-2019 dated August 12, 2019)

From 2016 until April 2017 Larry Donker was acting CEO at the airport. From May until the end of 2017 that position was in the hands of the current Chief Operations Officer Michel Hyman. In 2018 Ravi Daryanani succeeded him.

To this day questions about the airport’s finances remain unanswered because the forensic audit Peterson asked for was never done and the recommendation from Ernst&Young Advisory’s Financial Baseline Report (dated November 6, 2019) is still waiting for a proper follow-up.

Peterson asked back in 2019 also about a list of the contractors the airport had hired after September 6, 2017 (the day the hurricane struck), and for an overview of the value of their contracts and the scope of their work.

While currently parliamentarians like Christophe Emmanuel (independent) and Claudius Buncamper (USp) seem hell-bent on the dismissal of airport CEO Brian Mingo, the flashback to Peterson’s questions in August 2019 shows that the business operations at the airport were the subject of critical questions long before Mingo took office there; at least, those questions relate to the period before Mingo was in his current position.

Video excerpt of former MP Claude ‘Chacho’ Peterson giving his definition of ‘saboteurs’.

In a reference to what he called “saboteurs”, Peterson asked in 2019 which obstacles the airport had faced during its efforts to rebuild after Hurricane Irma. “I agree it is taking too long,” he said at the time. “But why? This is not only due to bureaucracy, there is much more going on behind the scenes. We get ministers in here with their hands tied behind their backs because of confidentiality. But I want this Pandora’s Box to be opened. I want to know about the internal and the external obstacles.”

Peterson said that there is “management pre-Mingo and post-Mingo” and, turning directly to Mingo, who was present in the meeting, he said: “I didn’t hire you and I won’t be the one firing you.”


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