MP Emmanuel: Dossier of possible wrongdoing at PJIA hidden from Parliament

MP Emmanuel: Dossier of possible wrongdoing at PJIA hidden from Parliament

MP C. Emmanuel MP C. Emmanuel

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - Independent Member of Parliament Christophe Emmanuel on Wednesday disclosed to Parliament that a dossier of complaints and allegations made by COO of the Princess Juliana International Airport Michel Hyman against the CEO and Supervisory Board of PJIAE (operating company) was submitted to the Council of Ministers (COM) and the President of Parliament since June 2019.

Most of the complaints and allegations by Hyman are outlined in more than 15 letters in which Hyman warns that actions by the Supervisory Board of Directors and the CEO Brian Mingo were not in keeping with the law, the Civil Code of St. Maarten and the Articles of Association of PJIAE.

Emmanuel openly questioned why members of Parliament were not provided with the dossier, why the COM has never made the dossier public and if anything at all was done based on the information in the dossier. “There are signatures to indicate that the documents were delivered and received,” he said.

The MP noted that the dossier, complete with copies of emails, WhatsApp chats, copies of contracts, legal letters etc., would have been useful to MP’s when the airport was the subject of heated debates in Parliament in 2019, 2020 and 2021, including when Mingo was dismissed only to be given his job back a short while after.  

Emmanuel also asked to Prime Minister and Minister of TEATT if the audit commissioned by the holding board of PJIA (PJIAH) in December 2021 was specifically ordered based on information provided to the holding board by Suspended COO Michel Hyman, and if this audit includes a forensic investigation into the spending and management practices of the CEO of the airport.

“This dossier would have given MP’s context and further expose that the CEO of the airport, as I have said before, is bad for the airport,” the MP said. “To put it plainly, this information, diligently compiled by Mr. Hyman who saw it as his duty to report what is happening at PJIA, was purposely hidden and not provided to MP’s or disclosed to the public. I want to repeat, it was signed for when it was delivered to COM and to the former President of Parliament in 2019,” the MP said.

He added that answers must be provided about two apartments the CEO rented for alleged business purposes, a cost overrun of a 125% for the construction of a bar at PJIA, why the CEO hired an active TelEm employee to oversee projects at PJIA and the bidding processes and outcomes of several projects at the airport among others.

“Here we have a CEO who found it hard to give air traffic controllers even five percent of what PJIA owes them, apparently settling for just 3%. Just three percent, which in the end amounts to just Naf 300 guilders per employee (30) a month. But the CEO can spend lavishly on himself and apparently overspend at the airport. There are people who Hyman believed would have done something about the situation once he provided them with information and nothing happened. But today he is suspended. Answers must be provided and I won’t stop until I get them,” the MP said.

Hyman’s complaint letters also alluded to Mingo’s unauthorized spending, such as US $2,400 on a limousine in New York, which prompted the MP to revisit an issue that he had already confronted the Prime Minister with but had never received answers and/or clarification.

Emmanuel reminded Parliament that the PM indicated in 2021 that PJIAE would conduct an inquiry into the usage of the company’s credit card by Mingo, a total that came up to approximately Naf 300,000 in just over a year. To date, he said, no explanation had been received. As such, the MP asked:

Did this investigation ever take place? If yes, what were the results of the investigation? More specifically, did the CEO of the airport use the airport's credit card for personal and family use? If yes, please indicate how much his personal spending on the credit card amounted to. And how much did the corporate spending amount to? Has the SBOD taken any sanctions against the CEO of the airport as a result of his credit card spending? If yes, please detail what these sanctions are? Did the SBOD reduce the limit on the CEO's company credit card?

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