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Editorial - Reckless move?

It's always a bit difficult to judge having heard only one side of the story, but Wednesday's news that the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) terminated its agreement with a local contractor for renovation of the complex in Philipsburg due to "signals" of integrity issues no doubt raises questions. It supposedly regards the construction company's role in a project of St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF), where the managing director was dismissed recently based on perceived irregularities.

However, one has to seriously doubt whether such concerns can be a valid reason not only to break a contract for work that seemingly has nothing to do with the SMHDF-case, but also to withhold payment. If indeed the Central Bank is on record stating it was not accusing anybody, but taking this decision merely based on "perception," that does not exactly strengthen its position either.

Especially such an important public institution acting as financial supervisor and monetary authority must know that in a state governed by the rule of law, one is innocent until proven guilty. Suspicion alone never can be enough to set aside binding legal arrangements and take actions that jeopardise the other party.

An offer of NAf. 520,000 reportedly was made, but the amount involved is said to much higher and 3.7 million is being claimed instead. The remaining part of the total NAf. 5.2 million apparently has been fulfilled already.

As the difference is so big, the dispute is likely to end up before the judge. Unless there is a so-called "smoking gun" directly related to this particular job, it seems that CBCS – certainly at first sight – would not have much of a chance in court.

In fact, one has to wonder whether this matter even was well thought out by the bank's management both here and in Willemstad, because it actually looks like a rather reckless move. Surely the Supervisory Board and both Finance Ministers as the two shareholder representatives ought to be making an effort to get to the bottom of this.

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