Caretaker State Secretary of Kingdom Relations Alexandra van Huffelen won’t let objections by the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT discourage her from working on a bailout for Ennia’s life insurance firm threatened with insolvency to save some 30,000 pensions in Curaçao and St. Maarten. The plan is to provide the two Dutch Caribbean countries with a related loan totalling about 600 million euros.
However, according to CFT, doing so will cause a deterioration of public finances, increase the national debt and severely limit government’s ability to make productive investments. The COVID-19 liquidity support also has to be paid back to the Netherlands, making the combined interest burden much higher than allowed under the Financial Supervision Law.
Van Huffelen said she considers CFT’s comments a serious warning regarding the risks involved, but at the same time wants a solution that does not affect people’s built-up pension rights. Without such a capital injection their entitlements would be cut by near 80%.
All this is, of course, pending an ongoing legal battle with Ennia’s main shareholder Hushang Ansary, who was ordered by the Court of First Instance to pay more than a billion Netherlands Antillean guilders in damages due to financial mismanagement and extracting the company’s funds. When this litigation ends and its final result remain anybody’s guess at this point.
There is mounting pressure for the Prosecutor’s Office in Willemstad to take penal action, but they reportedly claim to lack the necessary resources. Some suggest placing liens on Ansary’s possessions elsewhere, like in the US.
This is no doubt a very vexing problem and that the assets involved include Mullet Bay makes it even touchier for St. Maarten. Nevertheless, with time fast running out, there appears to be little choice, at least for now.