PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance on Thursday ordered Country St. Maarten to honour the agreement closed between Minister of Public Housing, Environment, Spatial Planning and Infrastructure VROMI Maurice Lake and members of the Vorst family to purchase their property in Cay Hill against payment of US $5.5 million.
Six members of the Vorst family had initiated summary proceedings against government on June 5, because it had failed to adhere to several agreements to purchase their property.
The Vorst family, represented by attorney-at-law Jairo Bloem, had requested the Court to order Country St. Maarten to cooperate with the drafting and execution of the deed of sale as agreed in the sale agreement between parties of February 3.
Based on this agreement, which was signed by Minister Lake on behalf of Country St. Maarten, two plots of land were to be purchased for US $5.5 million.
After the purchase, parties signed a so-called Amendment Agreement to the Purchase Agreement on April 9, for the purchase of a plot of 11,129 square metres in Little Bay.
It was agreed that the purchasing price would be paid in two instalments: US $3 million at the closing date and US $2.5 million on or before May 1, 2015, to be increased with four per cent interest per year from February 3, 2014, until the day of full payment.
The total amount for the first mortgage surety right was US $4 million, it was stated in the amendment, which was also signed by Minister Lake.
In the purchase agreement, it was stated that in case the purchaser failed to pay any outstanding amount in time, it would be obliged to pay eight per cent interest charge and 18 per cent penalty charges per year on all outstanding amounts. Both interest and penalty charges would be compounded yearly to the total amount of the purchaser’s debt to the sellers.
The notarial deed of closing was to be drawn up in accordance with the agreement of February 3, as well as with the amendment, with a closing date of May 27.
However, the Vorst family did not receive any payment on that day, which led the family to the conclusion that St. Maarten had not met its legal obligations and, therefore, requested the Court to impose penalties and payment of interest.
In its request to the Court, the Vorst family said it had already been waiting for a long time for government’s approval on the purchase. “Even though the purchase has been approved months ago, the Vorst family is very disappointed as it is still waiting for compliance with the agreement,” their lawyer stated.
One day before the planned Court hearing of June 27, both parties agreed to postpone the hearing to seek an amiable solution. It was agreed that government would pay the first instalment of US $3 million on July 4, as well as interest and penalties due, but government also did not comply with this arrangement.
Government’s lawyer, attorney Richard Gibson Jr., claimed that the purchase agreement was null and void because it was not in compliance with the Kingdom Law Financial Supervision Curaçao and St. Maarten, and because the minister of VROMI was not authorised to make such purchases as these were in violation of the Accountability Ordinance.
The Court, however, stated that the minister is authorised to make legal transactions on behalf of government, which falls under his ministry and his political responsibility. Therefore, the Vorst family could rely on the fact that the minister of VROMI was authorised to purchase their land.
Government contested the appraisal reports on the property, which indicated that the purchase price was four times higher than the regular market value, but the judge said this had no impact on the obligation to buy.
The Court also dismissed statements concerning the island’s unhealthy financial position, stating that, in this light, it was incomprehensible that government had signed no fewer than three purchase agreements.
“Three times did the minister of VROMI put his signature under the sale with a purchase price of US $5 million. The minister of VROMI must have realised and known against which price the plot was purchased. As the politically responsible minister and as guardian of the public interest of St. Maarten (which is not the task of the Court, as is sometimes erroneously thought), he apparently considered the purchase in the public interest of the island and its population,” the judge wrote in his decision.
The judge said Parliament could call the minister to account in case it emerged that the purchase was irresponsible, for instance, for financial reasons.
He also stated that the minister could be held personally liable for damages incurred, if these were caused deliberately or by grave neglect.
Country St. Maarten was ordered to cooperate with the draft and execution of the deed for the delivery of the Vorst property. It has to do so within four days after the pronouncement of the judgement, against payment of a daily US $10,000 penalty, in case of noncompliance.
The Court also ordered payment of US $3 million of the purchase price within four days and payment of the remaining part of the purchase price as stipulated in the amendment.
Government will also have to pay interest and penalties as stipulated in the purchase agreement of February 3, as per May 27, up until the day of full payment.
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Apologies, I had to retract the name. Yesterday I interviewed Ms Leeflang. I am currently transcribing the video, and realized my mistake. I still shouldn’t have made the mistake, but those in St Maarten political circles know that yesterday was a big day. The video is being carefully transcribed, and English sub-titles added. Ms Leeflang speaks perfect English, but the background noise at the Ocean Lounge at Holland House makes it difficult to understand what she is saying clearly.
There is about one week before election day, while I’m busy with the transcriptions, our officials should be busy making sure everyone has their voting cards.
There is so much going on, the video is about 8 minutes which means it will take all day to upload in High Definition. People have been already contacting me about the interview. As soon as it is posted I will syndicate it.
During the past five years, since my return to St Maarten, I have posted some of the most scandalous photoshop depictions of our politicians. Of course, this all falls under political satire. I have done so many photoshops parodying the UPP party, and this is the one that they’re trying to have Facebook ban?
So what they’ve done is, tried to get this photo banned from Facebook, you better believe Facebook sent me my little warning telling me that the photo was considered ‘obscene’ or whatever.
I’m the person who posted Julian Rollocks with Billy D in the wedding dress, I’ve photoshopped Duncan, Sarah, Theo, Marlin and just about every politician in St Maarten, and this is my FIRST complaint about a photo being obscene.
So in order to facilitate Maurice Lake’s attempts to ban this photo, I decided to repost it to blog, so that it can be in over 40 thousand email boxes in seconds.
Once the blog publishes, I will then syndicate, which means that the photo will publish in over 60 Facebook Groups, and over 50 pages in seconds.
I will then re-syndicate so that the syndication runs through Reddit, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter etc etc etc.
I will then ‘Press’ the photo so that it publishes to over 100 other associated blogs within minutes, this will also republish the photo to Facebook again, so that the ones that missed it the first time will see it again.
Once pressed through the other independent associated blogs…. I will take a rest, and read the Daily Mail Website.
I will then reblog this photo through all sites again, with the click of a button.
I will then go to sleep, wake up- switch from the wordpress blog platform, head on over to Blogger, and start the whole process over again, this time to over 500 google blogs, sites and platforms.
When that’s done, I will do a short video clip of just this photo to Maurice Lake election jingle, I will upload it to Youtube, and then start the whole syndication process all over again.