Published On: Fri, Jan 22nd, 2016

There are many things not right at the public company Refineria di Kòrsou (Curaçao Oil Refinery)

Ben_WhitemanWILLEMSTAD – At the public company Refineria di Korsou (Curaçao Oil Company) not only there are serious doubts on the accuracy with which the tender for the asbestos cleanup project has taken place, there is also a backlog of financial accounts and a shortage of key officials in the management. This is according to a letter from the Prime Minister of Curaçao, Dr. Ben Whiteman to the Supervisory Board of this public company.

The letter is from December 15, 2015 and the concerns voiced in it by the Prime Minister are still current. Whiteman refers to a meeting on September 30 of last year.

“During that meeting I had made it clear to you that because of the facts, which were brought to light, I cannot say with certainty that the public tender, which is the execution of the asbestos cleanup project, have gone according to the rules. In particular, the system of procurement within the Refineria di Korsou did not appear to be transparent. Furthermore, the overdue financial accounts of the RdK and the shortage of the key officials in key positions within an institution as the RdK, which is crucial for the economy of the island, is cause for concern,” said Whiteman in his letter.

The letter from Whiteman, which was then barely a month after Prime Minister Ivar Asjes was abruptly deposed by his former party Pueblo Soberano, was addressed to Marinelle Maduro, chairman of the Supervisory Board. She was also at the special meeting on September 30 in the conference room of Legislation and Legal Affairs (WJZ) government center in Fort Amsterdam. There were two other commissioners present, Rupert Arrindell and Rein Persaud. Notable attendees were also all five MPs of the largest government party, the Pueblo Soberano.

According to the minutes the MPs have, during that meeting, “an observational role”. The Prime Minister emphasized that it is not common for MPs to be present at such a meeting. It however seems that the President of the Supervisory Board, Maduro felt somewhat overwhelmed because she indicated “not to be prepared for the meeting because, despite her request, no agenda points have been previously sent to her”. Maduro was therefore unable to fully describe in detail the issues to be discussed.

The issue that had to be discussed was the asbestos-cleanup project. But also the shortage within the RdK of qualified staff needed to ensure effective operations. In particular the position of financial controller and internal auditors. These positions have been manned not long ago. During the meeting the parties also discussed that under normal circumstances, the government should not mingle in the affairs of the Supervisory Board and they in turn should not sit on the RdK management’s chair.

“However, these are not normal circumstances,” was recorded in the minutes, immediately after this sentence: “The Prime Minister underlined the need to act immediately if there is any suspected acts of corruption.”

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