Former minister Richard Gibson dismayed by bribery insinuations

Former minister Richard Gibson dismayed by bribery insinuations

Former Minister of Finance Richard Gibson in 2017, with then Prime Minister and National Alliance leader William Marlin.

 PHILIPSBURG--Former Minister of Finance Richard Gibson said, “It takes a very fanciful, devious and warped mind” to link the golden parachute payment of two million guilders he received from ENNIA insurance company in 2014 to his appointment as minister in 2015.

In a press release send to The Daily Herald on Sunday, Gibson responded to an article about him in Antilliaans Dagblad (AD) of Saturday, June 16. Under the headline “Indication of bribery”, the newspaper wrote that the Central Bank of Curaçao and St. Maarten (CBCS) and the ENNIA companies placed under an emergency regulation “take the position that there are indications of (official) bribery of former Minister Richard Gibson.”
CBCS does not trust ENNIA Caribe Holding Iranian-American major shareholder Hushang Ansary’s golden handshake to Gibson, according to AD.
Gibson read the front-page article with dismay on Saturday morning. According to the newspaper, “The issue has become topical again with the intended ‘intervention’ by the Central Bank at SunResorts (Mullet Bay on St. Maarten) which is owned by ENNIA Investment (EC Investments). Also, for some time in writing – so out of sight of the public – the appeal in connection with the liability procedure against defendant ex-directors of ENNIA, including against the American owner Hushang Ansary, has been playing out.”
In that regard, AD states, “His [Ansary’s – Ed.] confidant Gibson is not a defendant, but as a commissioner he did play a significant role in the Ansary/ENNIA file and was ‘put in the waiting room in writing’ by CBCS.”
Gibson said it is regrettable “that news organisations employ these questionable tactics,” indicating that these are merely insinuations, without rebuttal. “Indication of a bribery of a government official to do what exactly? And on whose behalf?” Gibson asked. “And what exactly constitutes indication of bribery’? Is it anything you can fabricate to try to tarnish someone’s reputation?”
Gibson said he had resigned as chairman of each of the ENNIA operating companies – namely, ENNIA Life, ENNIA Schade and ENNIA Zorg in Curaçao, as well as the Aruban companies with the same names – at the end of 2014. He also resigned as chairman of Banco di Caribe Curaçao and chairman of Banco di Caribe Aruba, as well as supervisory board member of ENNIA Caribe Holding (ECH). He also held the position of General Legal Counsel for all these companies.
Gibson said, “I was available 24/7 to the board of managing directors of these companies, the board of supervisory directors of these companies and to the chairman of the board of ECH, as a lawyer with more than 50 years of legal experience.”
He explained that “in appreciation for all the services rendered during the many years he served the ENNIA Group, both management of ENNIA and its ultimate beneficial owner decided to give a golden parachute payment when he departed from the companies in 2014.”
Approximately 50% of the NAf. 2 million (US $1.12 million) was deducted for taxes and paid to the government, Gibson said.
He explained to the newspaper that the CBCS had put the total amount of NAf. 7.8 million paid out to him over his years of service in the wrong context. CBCS assumed this was paid for his role as a member of the supervisory board. Hence it believed 7.2 million of the 7.8 was “excessive”. But in reality this was renumeration for all the positions he held at ENNIA and Banco di Caribe. “Some people believed I was actually underpaid,” stated Gibson.
For emphasis, he stated that the total amount mentioned was gross salary. Some 50% was deducted for tax purposes.
Gibson explained that he had approached the CBCS to explain all of this and that initially a date had been set for a meeting. This was later cancelled by CBCS, after which he received a letter asking him how much of the money he intended to pay back. He wrote them back that he intended no such thing. “I had no intention to settle anything. I did my work conscientiously and honourably.”
After his departure from ENNIA, United People’s Party (UP Party) approached Gibson to become Minister of Finance of St. Maarten. “This did not materialise,” said Gibson, who, at the end of 2015, was approached by the National Alliance party to become minister of finance. His appointment as finance minister in the cabinet of then Prime Minister William Marlin had nothing to do with the golden parachute payment, he received from ENNIA, Gibson concluded.

The Daily Herald

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