Published On: Sun, Dec 5th, 2021

Power struggle at GEBE turns ugly

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PHILIPSBURG — Working at utilities company GEBE remains a minefield. That much is clear after the recent court case against Sharine Daniel and the even more recent dismissal of temporary manager Mauricio Dembrook. The forces behind the scene that want to keep Daniel on board are diametrically opposed to those (like Dembrook) who want to bring integrity within the company to a higher level and to put Daniel – if it has to be – in a position where management has more control over her activities.

GEBE’s new supervisory board’s Audit Committee, chaired by Dimar Labega, candidate #9 on the National Alliance slate in the January 2020 election, seems to be adamant about having Daniel back as the company’s internal auditor.

The dismissal of temporary manager Mauricio Dembrook is the latest chapter in the power struggle saga at GEBE. The reasons for his dismissal clearly advertise the motivation for this decision by the supervisory board.

What happened? Recently, the court ordered GEBE to publish a rectification in local media about the way the company had treated Sharine Daniel. But when the rectification appeared, it failed to mention that the court had ordered the company to rectify.

Daniel jumped on the occasion, demanding damages to the tune of $8,500 and threatening to place a lien on GEBE’s bank accounts. Dembrook filed an injunction in an attempt to block that move. The supervisory board saw reason to dismiss Dembrook for his attempt to protect the interests of the company.

It’s the world upside down, because the articles of incorporation state that the managing director is authorized to initiate legal procedures without prior approval by the board if the situation is of an urgent nature and if the company’s interests are at stake.

According to a well-informed source, the board and Dembrook did not see eye to eye about Daniel. Apparently, in a letter to Anastacio Baker (as chairman of the supervisory board), Dembrook listed several concerns about Daniel. He also noted that the board had expressed in a resolution dated June 28 that it had lost “all trust” in Daniel’s ability to carry out her tasks as head of the internal audit department “with the requirements that that function mandates.”

Dembrook asked the board to reconsider its decision not to appeal the court ruling against Daniel, but he also extended an olive branch. He suggested offering Daniel a different position in the company in special projects. Dembrook’s dismissal shows that this suggestion fell on deaf ears with the supervisory board.

In its attempts to get Daniel in the managing director-chair, the gloves are off and the board is using everything it can think of to achieve that goal. The board leaked confidential documents to Daniel to help her in her battle against Dembrook and legal counsel Jairo Bloem. Documents the temporary manager submitted exclusively to the board came into Daniel’s possession and she is now using this information in her court case against Bloem. Daniel apparently also got documents for her court case against Bloem from Bibi Shaw, who has a played a dubious role in a smear campaign against Dembrook on social media recently with postings on the Facebook page of her SMN-News.

The big question is of course why all this is happening and why nobody seems to be able (or willing) to put a stop to it once and for all. If GEBE cannot rely on institutions like the Integrity Chamber, the Corporate Governance Council or the Parliament for protection, the sharks that circle the company will have the run of the place.

The forces that are fueling the chaos at GEBE apparently have their eyes on a $100 million loan for the development of Vineyard Heights and the construction of a new parliament building on the location of the old government administration building and the post office.

That interest is inspired by the possibility of multi-million dollar kickbacks. Mister Ten Percent is apparently no longer in the picture and rumor has it that, due to inflation, the kick back-percentage has gone up to 20.

All this, whether it is rumor or fact, is reason for serious concerns. After all, GEBE is a public company (politicians love to say that it belongs to “the people”) with a crucial role to play in the community’s energy supply. Time will tell whether this scenario will play out in favor of the company, or in favor of the people who want to benefit from it at the expense of the population.

At the present moment, despite the news that the COO to be, Jimmy Temmer, has been appointed as the new temporary manager of GEBE, his appointment has not been ratified officially by the board as yet. In effect, at this moment, there is no one at the helm of GEBE. If the lights go out, there is no one to blame.


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