PFP questions Government about ongoing GEBE leadership saga

PHILIPSBURG – Party for Progress (PFP) Members of Parliament (MPs) Melissa Gumbs and Raeyhon
Peterson have sent questions to Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and Minister of Public Housing, Spatial
Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI) Egbert J. Doran about the ongoing leadership saga
at government-owned water and electricity company GEBE.
In their letter, MPs Gumbs and Peterson mentioned several media articles that revealed new
information about the dismissal of interim manager Mr. Mauricio Dembrook and the court case
against the expected incoming chief executive officer (CEO) Ms. Sharine Daniel.
Mr. Dembrook – in a letter to the Sint Maarten Government on October 15, 2021 – highlighted
disturbing information he had uncovered about Ms. Daniel and her potential installation as GEBE’s
The PFP faction is curious as to why GEBE’s Supervisory Board of Directors removed Mr. Dembrook
from the interim position after they received this objection letter. The MPs have thus asked Ministers
Jacobs and Doran to explain the Supervisory Board’s official position about the letter. They also
questioned if the Supervisory Board had investigated the concerns mentioned in the letter, or simply
dismissed the claims and got rid of Mr. Dembrook as retribution for speaking out.
“We hope that the Supervisory Board actually looked into the claims with due diligence, and is not
acting out of political favouritism and vengeance,” MP Gumbs said. “Good corporate governance
does mean investigating the kind of serious claims made in that letter. This is why the Corporate
Governance Council noted the necessity for legal and financial minds to be on the GEBE Supervisory
Board. This is a necessity that the Government does not seem to care about, given the competencies
of recent appointees, all of whom, while being professional in their own fields, are not financial and
legal experts.”
PFP also questioned the two Ministers about the court case against Ms. Daniel, noting that media
reports have claimed that Mr. Dembrook was removed because he appealed the original verdict. The
MPs asked if the Supervisory Board had given instructions to Mr. Dembrook regarding the court case,
such as explicitly forbidding him from lodging an appeal. PFP also asked for copies of any Board
resolutions related to these decisions.
“It’s unclear to me why the Supervisory Board would not want to appeal the verdict, especially
considering that whether to appeal a court case involving GEBE is the prerogative of the CEO, interim
or not,” noted MP Peterson. “The judge spoke of a toxic working environment at GEBE. If the content
of Mr. Dembrook’s letter to the Supervisory Board is true, then the appointment of the new CEO is
not in GEBE’s best interest, as it would only perpetuate the toxicity. This again highlights why the
Corporate Governance Council made it a point to say that the board of GEBE needed to have a legal
expert as one of its appointed members. Any lawyer worth their hourly fee would have informed them that an appeal was the way to go in this instance.”
At the heart of PFP’s letter is the concern about the troubling instances of political games being
played in the country’s Government-owned companies.
“Sint Maarten has been plagued by a culture where CEOs of crucial government-owned companies
are being used as tools for personal and political gain. When trying to appoint a person to lead our
only utility company – the company responsible for the basic necessities of every household – you
would hope that politics would not play a part in it, but in Sint Maarten it’s the opposite. From some
media outlets becoming part of the obvious games with biased ‘news’ articles, to interim CEOs being
suspended for following the normal legal trajectories set forth by law, one cannot help but wonder if
we are ever going to take the positions of board members and CEOs seriously, especially those whose
appointment is (partially) decided at the discretion of our Council of Ministers,” the PFP faction