Governor launches integrity inquiry of St. Maarten Government

POSTED: 12/5/13 11:41 AM

St. Maarten – Governor Eugene Holiday installed a steering committee yesterday to advise him on, and oversee, the execution of an independent inquiry into the integrity and proper functioning of the St. Maarten government under the rule of law. The governor has to act based on the Kingdom Decree of September 30. The aim of the inquiry is to make, based on the findings from the assessment, recommendations that add value to the lawful and ethical functioning of the public administration.

The steering committee integrity inquiry, supported by a professional secretariat, has been established to ensure an independent, impartial, and effective process. The committee members have extensive backgrounds and careers in law, public policy, and good governance assessments across the Kingdom. The steering committee integrity inquiry is comprised of three members: Dr. Marten Oosting as chairman, Jaime Saleh, and Miguel Alexander. Dr. Oosting is a former member of the Council of State of the Kingdom, former National Ombudsman in the Netherlands, and a former professor in administrative law and public administration at the University of Groningen. Saleh is a former professor in constitutional law at the University of Utrecht, former Governor of the Netherlands Antilles, and former Chief Justice of the Court of Justice of the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba.  And Alexander is a former civil law notary in Curacao and a former member of the Council of Advice of the Netherlands Antilles. It will also have a secretariat comprised of two secretaries: Peter Benschop and Sidney Ricardo, both with expertise in law, accountancy, and public administration.

The steering committee integrity inquiry will advise Governor Holiday on the terms of reference for the integrity investigation, the selection of an independent organization that will execute the inquiry and on the findings and recommendations of the inquiry. The governor intends to engage the services of an international accounting firm with experience and expertise in conducting integrity inquiries. Following Governor Holiday’s engagement of such an organization, the steering committee will be responsible for overseeing and directing the organization.

The purpose of the inquiry is threefold: to collect data and information for assessment based on integrity requirements in accordance with the rule of law in a democratic society, to report the findings from the assessment, and finally to make recommendations that add value to the functioning of the public administration of St. Maarten.

The scope of the inquiry, in keeping with the provisions of the September 30 Kingdom Decree, covers the government and includes ministers, the civil servants in the ministries, and state owned companies. It focuses on vulnerable sectors such as prostitution, gambling, and immigration as well as vulnerable activities such as permits for and the execution of infrastructural works and (other) large tenders. The organization executing the inquiry will handle all documents and information obtained during the inquiry prudently and confidentially, that includes taking all measures necessary to ensure the anonymity of the government officials and employees and all persons involved in the inquiry.

For completeness sake it should be noted that the inquiry is an integrity investigation and not a penal investigation. The inquiry is as such separate from any penal investigation being carried out by the Office of the Public Prosecutor.

The organization executing the inquiry will issue an interim progress report within three months and the final inquiry report of its findings and recommendations within six months of its engagement to the governor. The process of the integrity inquiry will conclude with the presentation of the final report to the Kingdom Council of Ministers by Governor Holiday.

Further information and developments regarding the inquiry will be made public by the governor through the Cabinet of the Governor.


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