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Editorial - Inquiry welcome

What already had been rumoured is now a fact. The Prosecutor’s Office is making use of its authority under the Civil Code – with approval of the Dutch Caribbean’s Joint Court of Justice – to investigate the policies of St. Maarten Harbour Holding and its related entities (see related story).

The decision was prompted by “claims from society,” including the integrity reports of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) and the Samsom Committee. The release emphasised that “as yet” it’s a civil inquiry into corporate governance issues rather than a criminal matter, which obviously means this could change based on the facts to be gathered.

For now only information has been requested, as is the procedure. While not an everyday practice, there is precedent in Curaçao, where a similar exercise was started at several government-owned companies in 2013 on the initiative of pressure group “Akshon Sivil.”

Significantly, the latter is still ongoing, which indicates it’s a time-consuming process. People who are worried about everything suddenly going haywire at the port therefore should rest assured: This is not something likely to be done from one day to the next.

It must also be said, the recent handling of the controversy regarding the Checkmate Security contract was not exactly an example of transparency. The course of events with the construction of the Simpson Bay causeway is mentioned too.

That there is apprehension over what the probe might uncover is understandable when one thinks of the stories about possible irregularities in the last few years. This is also precisely why the action actually should be welcomed and Economic Affairs Minister Claret Connor did the right thing by expressing hope the harbour company would cooperate fully, in a press release Tuesday night.

Sure, the process may bring some inconvenience for past and present members of management and the supervisory board as well as others. However, should the outcome clear everybody involved and with it how the facility that remains so important to the local tourism-economy is run, that probably will have been worth it.

And, even if wrongdoings, whether intentional or not, were brought to light and those responsible held accountable, wouldn’t that ultimately best serve the general interest?

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