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FULL STORY: SARAH WESCOT WILLIAMS ABOUT THE VDSM CONTINUES AS QUESTIONS REMAIN ABOUT JAMES RICHARDSON

The Prime Minister of St Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot –Williams has further explained the serious indications of malversations at the National Security Department of St. Maarten (VDSM) on Friday while she spoke on her weekly Radio Program One on One with the Prime Minister on 98.1 Pearl FM.

The Prime Minister gave clarity on the status of the VDSM and the progress of the ongoing investigation. “I need to start out by informing the people that our National Security Service is governed by a National Security Law which is an organic law and thus a public law.

 

We need to realize that this service is specific in the fact that it operates independently. Indeed, Government finances the service and if you look at the Budget, which is approved by Parliament, there is a post for the National Security Service.

 

The only difference is that there is a total mention for the National Security Budget overall. They manage their operations and finances independently and are not part of the normal procedures and constraints of Government.

 

If a department needs finances there is a whole process it has to go through, however by law the VDSM does not fall under these procedures as the National Security Service manages their finances Independently.

 

However, the Prime Minister also explained since the law grants the VDSM that kind of independence there are control mechanisms in place. “For the operation of the National Security Service there is an Oversight Committee and that Committee is also laid out in the law, the composition of which includes a representative of the Joint Court of Justice, the Vice Chair of the Council of Advice and the President of Parliament.”

 

However Government, on the recommendation of the service, requested to change the membership of the National Security Service Oversight Committee, specifically that of the President of Parliament. But until that proposal is accepted or rejected the Committee is still in place.

 

The proposal for the change has to do with the fact that the Committee reports to the Minister of General Affairs, so to have the Chairperson of Parliament in a committee, whom the minister has a political responsibility to, makes for a difficult situation. The new proposal calls for a member of a Constitutional Court,” stressed the Prime Minister.

 

Upon hearing of the Investigation, the Prime Minister had ordered an investigation by the Government Account Bureau SOAB. This investigation is currently being finalized.

 

“Given the nature of the service and the implications of an investigation for the reputation of our security department and the country in general, extreme judiciousness needs to be exercised in analyzing the result of the investigation and potential actions as a result thereof.

 

In addition to the Committee that looks at the rightful operation of the services there is control of the accounts through the General Audit Chamber.

 

Some of the expenses of the service are labeled as secret expenses because those not involved should not know what they are about. As Prime Minister I do not and should not want to know what those finances are but I do need to know that there is some control in place.

 

In rechecking the accounts we noticed that there was something wrong or some discrepancies with regards to the finances of the service and so I ordered the SOAB to look into the matter and have received their report and we are currently analyzing and studying the results of that report and then Government would decide what actions will be taken.

 

“What is coming out of the investigation is unfortunate given this particular service, however the integrity of the VDSM itself has never been compromised and the personnel of that service has done everything to make sure that does not and did not happen and indeed the service itself has not been compromised,” concluded the Prime Minister.

Last modified on Sunday, 14 July 2013 09:
SXMISLANDTIMES

The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot–Williams has further explained the serious indications of malversations at the National Security Department of St. Maarten (VDSM) on Friday while she spoke on her weekly Radio Program One on One with the Prime Minister on 98.1 Pearl FM.

The Prime Minister gave clarity on the status of the VDSM and the progress of the ongoing investigation. “I need to start out by informing the people that our National Security Service is governed by a National Security Law which is an organic law and thus a public law. We need to realize that this service is specific in the fact that it operates independently. Indeed, Government finances the service and if you look at the Budget, which is approved by Parliament, there is a post for the National Security Service. The only difference is that there is a total mention for the National Security Budget overall. They manage their operations and finances independently and are not part of the normal procedures and constraints of Government. If a department needs finances there is a whole process it has to go through, however by law the VDSM does not fall under these procedures as the National Security Service manages their finances Independently.

However, the Prime Minister also explained since the law grants the VDSM that kind of independence there are control mechanisms in place. “For the operation of the National Security Service there is an Oversight Committee and that Committee is also laid out in the law, the composition of which includes a representative of the Joint Court of Justice, the Vice Chair of the Council of Advice and the President of Parliament.”

However Government, on the recommendation of the service, requested to change the membership of the National Security Service Oversight Committee, specifically that of the President of Parliament. But until that proposal is accepted or rejected the Committee is still in place. The proposal for the change has to do with the fact that the Committee reports to the Minister of General Affairs, so to have the Chairperson of Parliament in a committee, whom the minister has a political responsibility to, makes for a difficult situation. The new proposal calls for a member of a Constitutional Court,” stressed the Prime Minister.

Upon hearing of the Investigation, the Prime Minister had ordered an investigation by the Government Account Bureau SOAB. This investigation is currently being finalized. “Given the nature of the service and the implications of an investigation for the reputation of our security department and the country in general, extreme judiciousness needs to be exercised in analyzing the result of the investigation and potential actions as a result thereof. In addition to the Committee that looks at the rightful operation of the services there is control of the accounts through the General Audit Chamber. Some of the expenses of the service are labeled as secret expenses because those not involved should not know what they are about. As Prime Minister I do not and should not want to know what those finances are but I do need to know that there is some control in place. In rechecking the accounts we noticed that there was something wrong or some discrepancies with regards to the finances of the service and so I ordered the SOAB to look into the matter and have received their report and we are currently analyzing and studying the results of that report and then Government would decide what actions will be taken.

“What is coming out of the investigation is unfortunate given this particular service, however the integrity of the VDSM itself has never been compromised and the personnel of that service has done everything to make sure that does not and did not happen and indeed the service itself has not been compromised,” concluded the Prime Minister.

From the Cabinet of the Prime Minister

SMN-NEWS BIBI SHAW

PM confirms VDSM investigation targeted big money discrepancies

MONDAY, 15 JULY 2013 00:05

~ More than NAf. 500,000 missing ~

PHILIPSBURG–Prime Minister of St. Maarten Sarah Wescot-Williams has confirmed that the irregularities at the Security Service of St. Maarten (VDSM) which she disclosed last week have to do with money and the subsequent investigation she ordered focused squarely on that.

The PM’s statement over the weekend, coupled with the involvement of the government accountant bureau (SOAB) and the General Audit Chamber, also lends credence to public and media speculation that a large amount of money has gone missing from the VDSM, and so has the head of the department.

The PM stopped short of saying this, however, nor did she indicate how much money is involved. Unconfirmed reports indicate that more than NAf. 500,000 cannot be accounted for. Whether the head of the department used this money for personal affairs, or for VDSM operations – but there is no administration paper trail to prove such – is also unclear. It should be noted that the head of VDSM has cash money at his disposal, and reports indicate, has been spending this for the past two years.

The PM said there is some control of the accounts through the General Audit Chamber. In re-checking the accounts, she explained, “we noticed that there was something wrong or some discrepancies with regards to the finances of the service, and so I ordered the SOAB to look into the matter and have received their report and we are currently analyzing and studying the results of that report, and then government would decide what actions will be taken.”

She further explained that some of the expenses of the service are labelled as secret expenses, because those not involved should not know what they are about. “As Prime Minister, I do not and should not want to know what those finances are, but I do need to know that there is some control in place.”

The PM, though politically responsible for the service, said the VDSM is specific in the fact that it operates independently. “Indeed, government finances the service and if you look at the budget, which is approved by Parliament, there is a post for the National Security Service. The only difference is that there is a total mention for the National Security Budget overall. They manage their operations and finances independently and are not part of the normal procedures and constraints of government. If a department needs finances there is a whole process it has to go through, however, by law the VDSM does not fall under these procedures, as the National Security Service manages their finances independently,” she said.

She said what is coming out of the investigation is unfortunate, given this particular service. However, she stressed that the integrity of the VDSM itself has never been compromised and the personnel of that service has done everything to make sure that does not and did not happen.

The amount budgeted for the VDSM on the 2012 and 2013 budget was NAf. 3 million.

SXM HERALD

 

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