~ $8M placed in an account managed by MAHO boss, business interruption money pocketed. ~
PHILIPSBURG: --- Ousted Minister of VSA Emil Lee and interim Minister of TEATT Cornelius de Weever took $8M from the Trust Fund money and handed it over to the St. Maarten Training Foundation (STF) where Lee’s best buddy Saro Spadaro is the chairman of the foundation board. At the time this money was given to St. Maarten Training Foundation (STF) Michael Ferrier was the Minister of Finance both of whom are close friends to the businessman.
While Lee said that the trust fund money will be used to provide much-needed training for hospitality workers that are needed on St. Maarten the truth to the matter is that the trust fund money was used to pay Maho and Sunwing workers that were not working post-Irma and Maria.
These workers that are participating in the courses worked for years at both resorts and did not need additional training, in fact, younger persons that are not working and are registered at the Labor Department as unemployed are the ones that should be given these types of training to prepare them for the job market.
While several Members of Parliament have knowledge of what was done with the first tranche of the trust fund money not one of them initiated a parliamentary inquiry to see exactly what the three musketeers did with the money the Dutch Government placed several conditions on for the sole purpose of recovery as used for and who benefitted. The question that is now left unanswered is how many politicians and or Members of Parliament are part of this scheme or in the pockets of the known businessman. Even more questionable is the fact the Dutch Government remained quiet on this rather strange business deal.
Both resorts were paid millions for the damages their buildings sustained by insurance companies while they were also paid millions for business interruption which was supposed to be used to pay the workers that were not able to work while Maho buildings were being repaired. However, the clever businessman along with his two friends came up with the bright idea to form a foundation and used money that was supposed to repair homes, schools and other buildings such as the Philipsburg Jubilee Library that had to close its doors due to lack of funding from government to pay workers that worked for the two resorts for several years.
One of the conditions Maho and Sunwing implemented for Sonesta Great Bay workers was if they did not attend the courses at NIPA then they would not be entitled to the stipend and doctor cards given out by SZV to these workers that were left without work due to the damages the resorts endured by Irma and Maria. Again government through SZV took on unnecessary debt to grant SZV cards to persons that were working pre-IRMA and Maria for reputable businesses.
The no work no pay policy that the foundation implemented was wrongly used and not one of the politicians including Members of Parliament investigated what transpired with trust fund money. Sunwing demolished Sonesta Great Bay due to extensive damages and soon they will begin reconstruction. While Maho could not open for months due to repairs.
Some students that are attending the courses and NIPA told SMN News that while some of them are working for minimum wage and felt they needed to participate in the courses that are provided to students that are interested in courses in construction and electrical they are asked to pay the foundation NAF 2000.00 in order to receive the training.
Some students depending on how lucky they are receiving NAF 600.00 as a stipend and a doctor card from SZV for 6 months while minimum wage workers are asked to pay. Indeed, the ousted Minister and Foundation Board members sold the project as if they are they were investing NAF 2000. 00 in students while paying them to attend.
Students that are forced to pay told SMN News they sent in a petition questioning the high fees they are requested to pay while working for minimum wage and to date, the Foundation did not address the issue.
Five Maho workers received huge settlements.
Of the 200 workers that are not being paid by Maho, five of them decided to initiate a court case against their boss for withholding salaries from them while he was paid business interruption money. One of the five workers told SMN News that they had an out court settlement with their employer and they all signed a non-disclosure agreement, therefore, no comment could be obtained.