THURSDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2013
PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said on Wednesday that St. Maarten Security Service (VDSM) head James Richardson will be replaced. She said the results of SOAB’s report on questionable occurrences at VDSM recommended that his position not be maintained, but declined to elaborate any further, citing the legal process that has to be followed.
She said she could not say whether Richardson had admitted any wrongdoing, but “hopes that at an appropriate moment to give a report which will not include details, but address the questions that are out there about VDSM.”
She added that it was likely that someone would be appointed in an interim basis at VDSM, to “create tranquillity” and normalise internal operations. An interim appointment most probably will not be made until the legal process with the current head is completed.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that more than NAf. 500,000 of VDSM funds cannot be accounted for. Whether the head of the department used this money for personal affairs or for VDSM operations – but there is no administration paper trail to prove such – is also unclear. It should be noted that the VDSM head has cash at his disposal and reports indicate he has been spending this for the past two years.
The PM said a few weeks ago that there was some control of the accounts through the General Audit Chamber. In rechecking the accounts, she explained, “We noticed that there was something wrong or some discrepancies with regard to the finances of the service, and so I ordered SOAB to look into the matter and have received their report. We are currently analysing and studying the results of that report, and then government will decide what actions will be taken.”
She further explained that some of the service’s expenses were labelled “secret expenses,” because those not involved should not know what they were about. “I do not and should not want to know what those finances are, but I do need to know that there is some control in place,” she had said at the time.
The PM stated that what had come out of the investigation was unfortunate, given this particular service. However, she stressed that the integrity of VDSM itself had never been compromised and the personnel of that service had done everything to make sure that did not and would not happen.
The amount budgeted for VDSM on the 2012 and 2013 budget was NAf. 3 million.
Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten