RED Reports Against Premier Nelson Oduber & Minister of Tourism and Transport Edison Briesen … Accountability, Forgery & Bribery?
Corruption in government in Aruba? Say it isn’t so. So says Rudy Lampe and Armand Hessels of RED. Supposedly Prime Minister Nelson Oduber and Minister of Tourism and transport, Edison Briesen, are being accused of violations of the accountability act, forgery and possible bribery. So the thought is brought to mind, how does a tourist who has a crime committed against them get a fair shot of justice then?
Party-leader Rudy Lampe of opposition party RED and his fellow party member Armand Hessels reported violation of the accountability act and forgery in the harbour project in Aruba against Premier Nelson Oduber (MEP) and his fellow party member Minister of Tourism and transport, Edison Briesen, with the Public Prosecutor (OM) on Monday afternoon. According to RED, there is supposedly also bribery involved.
RED reports against Premier Oduber and Minister Briesen (Amigoe: 4/22/2008)
Rudy Lampe and Armand Hessels (RED) on their way to the governor to hand in a copy of the reporting against Premier Oduber and Minister Briesen.
ORANJESTAD – Party-leader Rudy Lampe of opposition party RED and his fellow party member Armand Hessels reported violation of the accountability act and forgery in the harbour project in Aruba against Premier Nelson Oduber (MEP) and his fellow party member Minister of Tourism and transport, Edison Briesen, with the Public Prosecutor (OM) on Monday afternoon. According to RED, there is supposedly also bribery involved.
RED is of the opinion that together with Glenbert Croes (OLA), Briesen clearly favours and is ‘an advocate’ of pulling in the Trusam-group from Spain, where according to RED, the minister has traveled suspiciously often to Spain in the past years. RED says that Briesen had already arranged that the Bushiri-project went to Sol Melia (a subdivision of the Trusam-group), whereby it is suspected that Trusam already knew about it or was at least favoured.
Red connects above with the fact that the project of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines (RCCL) that now has interest in Caracasbaai in Curacao, like the Amigoe reported earlier, didn’t take place. The negotiations with RCCL and harbour company Aruba Ports Authority (APA) had to be torpedoed and the notorious Nambar-letter from 2000, in which one million florins in bribery was offered, leaked out for that. RCCL would have done the developments together with Namdar, but after the letter leaked out, this idea died an early death. RED has documents that show that Briesen and Oduber did everything in their power to appoint Trusam, and didn’t put out a public tender.
RED says having heard from reliable sources that lawyers’ firm Croes, Wever & Tchong, is representing this group in Aruba. This firm is the office of former-minister Hendrik Croes (MEP), who is also national lawyer and that according to RED ‘exerts big influence on the policy and the decisions of this government’. The Maritime & Transport Business Solutions BV that was brought in by Oduber in December of last year, is commissioned to negotiate the developments of the harbours of Oranjestad and Barcadera with the Spanish investors that were already appointed by Oduber. Withy this, Oduber and Briesen are ‘willfully breaching the law and treaties’.
They have violated a treaty that the Kingdom has concluded with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Lampe and Hessels explained their reporting in a press conference. They emphasized that the investments involved with the entire harbour project is going to be an estimate between 500 million and one milliard florins. The project includes the move of the container harbour, the expansion of the facilities for cruise ships, the construction of a new Free Zone, and a real estate project that includes a hotel, condominiums, and a marina.
RED is afraid that with the huge amounts involved with the project, the democracy will be put under serious pressure, and especially the so-called finders-fees that are usual with these kinds of deals and amounts between the 5 and 10 percent, which will yield some tens of millions of florins for the persons directly involved. According to RED, the amount of money that ends up in party-hands (read: MEP) via this project, will have such a predominant influence on the next elections and with that, definitely influence the result.
Lampe and Hessels write in the explanation of the accusation that the idea has always been and still is, to finance the move of the container harbour from the proceeds of one or more commercial concessions given to big project developers for the development of the harbour area and surrounding grounds in Oranjestad.
A possible concession to RCCL has been pending for a long time, but was for several reasons, not materialized, because the financial-economic outline would not be profitable enough and because of the well-known Namdar- scandal.
Another investment group that for years has shown interest in the development of the harbour area in Oranjestad is the Trusam-group from Spain. RED says in the accusations that in the current government, Minister Briesen is the ‘advocate’ of the Trusam-group. “As minister, Briesen had already arranged that the Bushiri-project went to Sol Melia (a subdivision of the Trusam-group), whereby it is suspected that Trusam/Sol Media already knew this or was at least favoured. A public tender was put out just for the formality. The Bushiri-grounds form the western part of the harbour area. Minister Briesen has traveled numerous times per year to Spain in the past years, without telling his ministry of the Aruba House in The Hague what the purpose of these trips the Spain was. Every time he made a business trip to the Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe, be made sure to plan a trip to Spain. We are not sure whether Trusam had paid for these trips or not.”
Immediately after the transaction with RCCL was definitely blown off in December of 2007, Prime Minister Oduber had a meeting in the Netherlands with representatives of Maritime & Transport Business Solutions (MTBS), a subdivision of Royal Haskoning, a big consultant-, architect-, and engineer bureau. That encounter was later confirmed in writing and the most important issue that is revealed is a request of Oduber to MTBS ‘to negotiate the development of the harbours in Oranjestad and Barcadera’ with the named investor, appointed by Oduber.
On behalf of the ministry of Tourism and Transport, Minister Briesen has signed a so-called Client/Consultant Services Agreement for the Project ‘Advisory Services Aruba Port Investments’ with MTBS on March 26, 2008. RED says that the agreement represents at least 300.000 euro or 850.000 florins. All the facts point out that Briesen and Oduber have willfully breached the law and public treaties, by entering an international service agreement without calling for tenders and have explicitly given orders not to put the investments in both harbour projects out for tender.
Copies of the accusation were handed to the Cabinet of the Governor and to the Representation of the Netherlands, because according to Lampe and Hessels, also the good name of the Kingdom is at stake, because of the signing of the WTO-treaty. Lampe cannot understand that the current government has not learned from the bitter process of the Fondo Desaroyo Nobo San Nicolas. Premier Oduber and Minister Briesen were not yet available for a comment this morning.