Published On: Thu, Jun 29th, 2017

MDPT was Werner Wiels’ personal ATM

Werner-WielsWILLEMSTAD - Werner Wiels leaves as chairman of the MDPT, the Multidisciplinary Project Team, which is responsible for the negotiations to modernize the oil refinery Isla. In fact, this team, under his leadership and with support from the refinery owner, the public company Refineria di Korsou (RdK), has become a true ATM for all kinds of friends of Wiels.

This is evidenced by a complaint filed in January at the Public Prosecutor's Office (OM). According to the financial controller Shenill Isidora, thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of guilders were transferred internally or externally through non-existing invoices. Anyone who was well-acquainted with Wiels could get nice contracts from the project team.

For which project has not always been clear because, for real expertise and knowledge, a whole team of law firms and consultancy companies were hired. Between March and September 2015 alone, consultancy fees were almost a million guilders, sometimes even without an underlying contract. Several law firms even made four hundred thousand guilders for additional legal support during this period.

Misplaced

In January of this year, the Public Prosecutor's Office received the file on the irregularities and is currently investigating, the OM spokesperson confirmed that this week. Also, I have the file in my possession and I’m already lifting a tip of the veil. The complete story will be told during the trial.

Wiels himself has at least built a nice track record of issues with finance. In 2005 he was fired from Amfo due to financial irregularities and in the civilian survey on mismanagement at the utility company Aqualectra there are even more serious facts. Wiels was at that company during that time. He says that he’s not worried and won’t even take a look at the file.

This appears to be misplaced, as there are serious allegations made by closely involved employees within the RdK, including Shenil Isidora, former financial controller of the public company, BOO and MDPT. She was dismissed in 2015. Isidora was aware of the dubious businesses and transactions and did not want to be part of it. The questions she asked became her end at that post. In 2016 she was fired.

Carte Blanche

AsjesThe reason for RdK (MDPT's financier) to give Werner Wiels carte blanche, came to be because former Prime Minister Ivar Asjes wrote to the RdK, "With due observance of applicable company laws, rules, procedures and regulations, all financial requests made by the MDPT should be honored immediately for the organization to carry out the task assigned to them without any hindrance.”

The MDPT, in the beginning, had its office in the offices of contractor MITS Curaçao Inc., in Buena Vista. A petrochemical contractor and RdK customer. And not just a customer. Even the director of RdK has his own workplace at that contractor. “Often, Jose van der Wall-Arnemann (Director RdK) only came to the office of RdK in the morning and then went straight to MITS without returning. “We found that strange because MITS receives a lot of contracts from RdK and we saw a conflict of interest there,” said Isidora.

Isidora processed invoices for the MDPT via a separate budget within RdK. “The MDPT provided a lot of invoices for computers, laptops, furniture, consultants, travels, and so on. I often did not book the invoices in accordance with the budget because it had to do with things that were not included in it at all,” said Isidora. Also, there were invoices submitted by the MDPT that obviously had nothing to do with the project team but still had to be paid by Isidora.

As an example, she uses the invoice of Kompania Gas i Petroli. “Typically an invoice for RdK,” said Isidora. “It has Refineria di Korsounothing to do with the MDPT. There was also no budget item for it. When I said something about it, I was instructed to create an item. I indicated to the director of the RdK, Jose van der Wall-Arneman that this can only be done by a decision of the supervisory board. I was overruled.”

Cash Advance

When Isidora announced that she wanted to make an inventory of the purchased assets of the MDPT, she was told not to do this. “I have asked Van der Wall-Arnemann questions about dubious bookings, but I never really received a satisfactory answer. It came down that we just had to pay and book and no longer have to ask questions,” said Isidora.

She was even instructed to send the paperwork to Wiels himself. “So he could match it. I told him that we are busy with "creative accounting". Budget items should be addressed to correctness and not creativeness, was my answer.”

There were also irregularities with declarations. “For example, if Werner Wiels received a cash advance for a business trip to pay his hotel, later it appeared that the hotel was fully paid by RdK's credit card. We just had to book that and not “complain”. In my time, Werner Wiels has never paid back such a cash advance.”

Employed

According to Isidora, people were employed by the MDPT in a strange manner. “For example, Wiels provided an internship agreement, whereby someone worked for the MDPT for a period of one month at a rate of 1,500 guilders. Then we had to pay that person monthly - for an indefinite period - with that same amount.”

A remarkable fact from the dossier is the arrival of Jean-Marie Fransisca at the end of 2014. She had just resigned as a minister. It appeared that the monthly allowance threatened her compensation as a former minister. Francisca left the multi-disciplinary team and pushed her husband forward to get the money through a strange construction.

Her husband set up a consultancy (sole proprietorship) in the petrochemical industry and provided services to the MDPT. That happened days after Fransisca’s resignation as minister. The issued check of 13,200 guilders corresponded to the amount that consultants usually receive as a monthly fee from the MDPT. In addition, Fransisca's partner does not appear to have a petrochemical background, other than that he is a security guard at the oil refinery.

The budget for members of the MDPT, such as Fransisca, was based on ten to fifteen hours a week work. The MDPT has never reported to Isidora the time spent by the members of the project team working for the organization. Isidora: “Indeed, the MDPT only provides us with invoices and requests for cash advances, without any accountability whatsoever. As far as I am aware, there is no control over the MDPT's financial household. There is every opportunity for embezzlement and that's what happens,” said Isidora.

Credibility

It is to be hoped that the new government is transparent about the departure of Wiels and the consequences it has. For example, for the current RdK director Van der Wall-Arneman. RdK has financed Wiels and the director was aware of the irregularities but did not intervene.

The shifting of people which will take place now with the “timely” departure of Wiels should reach further. Aqualectra has the opportunity to address him for mismanagement, following the publication of Judge Willem's report in the context of the civil survey. The Rhuggenaath government should do the same for the Directors of the RdK and the MDPT. And for everybody who received money from Wiels’ ‘ATM machine’.

Regardless of the criminal investigation that is taking place in the background, the fight against corruption of the Rhuggenaath government gets more brilliance and more credibility as involved managers are being addressed on their actions.

By Dick Drayer

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