How Minister Roland Duncan’s Hypnotic Hotel and Entertainment NV set its claws in the Seaman’s Club – The brothel battle in Sucker GardenPOSTED: 03/13/13 12:26 PM
St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – In the sixties of the last century a Japanese fishing company settled down in St. Maarten. It brought a lot of Japanese fishermen to the island and the islanders saw fit to take measures to protect their girls and women against the perceived sex drive of these foreigners. With the permission of Lt. Governor Jappa Beaujon Allan St. Clair Richardson and Claude Wathey established the Seaman’s Club in Sucker Garden, a brothel that was soon dubbed the Japanese Club.
St. Maarten was not the first Antillean island to establish a brothel. Already in 1949, the government and the church in Willemstad took action to manage prostitution. It was rife in the center of town, fueled by the presence of countless sailors. The government and the church decided to establish Le Mirage in an area away from the city center. The motivation at the time was, or so we read in St. Maarten’s prostitution policy, “to offer local women and children as much physical and psychological protection as possible against the bad actions of these sailors and their prostitutes.”
Fifteen years later, St. Maarten took a leaf out of this book, though there is no mention of church-involvement.
For decades prostitution in St. Maarten was illegal, though the government condoned it. It is unclear when the first prostitution policy was developed by the island government. This newspaper has a copy of a document that was written for the cabinet of the Lt. Governor in 2003. Dated January 28, 2003, the 8-page document – signed by policy advisor Ruth Brewster and cabinet Chef Ligia Stella – lists six brothels and indicates for each a maximum number of prostitutes that are allowed to work there.
Three brothels are in Sucker Garden: Seaman’s Club (18 prostitutes), Fish fry and Crystal Club (18) and Defiance Haven Hotel (32).In Oyster Pond there are two: the Border Bar (16) and Casablanca (50); the last one is Le Petit Chateau (28) on Pond Island.
The document described the situation in 2003 as follows: “Approximately 161 women of whom 52 have a temporary work permit) are making a living in the prostitution in St. Maarten. These numbers refer exclusively to foreign women.”
Eight years later, in January 2011, this newspaper obtained a copy of the new prostitution policy – by then a document of 80 pages (35 for the policy and 45 addenda). On page 5, it contains the 2003 sentence: “Approximately 161 women of whom 52 have a temporary work permit) are making a living in the prostitution in St. Maarten.”
The island population increased by more than 23 percent from 33,187 to 40,917 between 2003 and 2009 (more recent figures are not available) but apparently the prostitution business did not evolve with it.
The prostitution policy establishes that the government will allow six brothels (demurely indicated as sex companies) and four strip clubs.
But a recent overview provided by the Ministry of Justice dated October 31, 2012, shows that there are now not ten but twelve companies holding a license for a brothel or a strip club.
They are: Sunset Retreat NV (Border Bar), Hypnotic Hotel and Entertainment NV, Richbenzwan NV (Seaman’s Club), Blue Sky Hotel NV, Casa Blanca (St. Maarten) NV, Lunteren NV (Bada Bing), Pemol Enterprises NV, Showtime NV, The Greek Corporation NV (Le Petit Chateau), Lucky Shot NV, St. Maarten Angel Hotel Enterprises NV (Defiance Haven) and Wonderful World of Entertainment NV (The Platinum Room).
In this list the name of Hypnotic Hotel and Entertainment stands out as a company with an exploitation permit. What also stands out is that the company is located at the same address as Richbenzwan NV: Umbrella Cactus Drive #10. That happens to be the address of the Seaman’s Club.
This is where the story gets interesting. The directors of Hypnotic are the “Stichting Duncan Holding Pensioenfonds (Foundation Duncan Holding Pension Fund) and D&B (Duncan and Brandon) Management and Collection Services NV. Both directors are located at the address Cannegieter Street 46, the office of the Duncan and Brandon law office.
These companies have controlled Hypnotic since its incorporation in 2009, according to an excerpt from the Chamber of Commerce this newspaper obtained.
In June of that year, four months after the establishment of Hypnotic, Justice Minister Roland Duncan (at that time Minister of Constitutional Affairs for the Netherlands Antilles) entered a meeting with representatives of Richbenzwan NV, the owners of the Seaman’s Club. The minister introduced himself as a business partner of James Martin Carti, who is registered at the Chamber of Commerce as the director of the Blue Sky Hotel (Pendant Cactus Road #15, aka Carolena Bar) and also as the director of Carolena NV, a company that operates in the market under the name Younique Water & Ice. On June 29, 2009, Duncan personally signed the contract between Hypnotic Hotel and Entertainment and Richbenzwan NV that gave Hypnotic the right to operate the Seaman’s Club for the next ten years, starting on November 1, 2010 – and trouble was about to begin.
Tomorrow: The Hypnotic files part 2.