~ Emil Lee used backdoor procedures to bring in foreign public adjuster. ~
PHILIPSBURG: --- Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin may find herself in hot water should Henderson International decide to take legal action against the government of St. Maarten for annulling their services without prior notice and valid reasons.
Romeo Marlin would also have to explain to the Governor of St. Maarten why her government willfully mislead him when they chose not to follow proper procedures to annul the contract Henderson International have with the Government of St. Maarten and to also hire Smith Orloff & Associates.
In October 2017, the former coalition government under the helm of former Prime Minister William Marlin held a bidding process for adjusters to submit their proposals to government since the government of St. Maarten was busy looking to hire the services of an adjuster to work alongside NAGICO Insurances.
The bidding process was handled by former Head of Finance and Acting Secretary General Ravi Daryanani and Hensley Plantijn Secretary General of Ministry of General Affairs. Four companies participated in that bidding process, they are Henderson International, Solimar NV, Smith Orloff & Associates, and Alex N. Still Company.
As SMN News investigates this case, it was quite noticeable that three of the companies namely Henderson International, Solimar NV and Alex N. Still follow business practice and proper procedures when they submitted their proposals as it was addressed to Plantijn and Daryanani, while Smith Orloff & Associates chose to submit their proposal to the Minister of VSA Emil Lee which was sent to the Minister’s home address 156 Oyster Pond Road, Dawn Beach. Bear in mind that even though Smith Orloff and Associates chose to use a backdoor approach and submitted their request through their friend in the Council of Ministers their proposal was included the in the bidding process.
When the bidding process was completed Daryanani also prepared an advice for government where he clearly advised the Government of St. Maarten to hire Henderson International. That advice was also signed off by two other senior civil servants that are dealing and managing government properties both movable and immovable.
In December 2017, the Council of Ministers of the former coalition approved that advice and hired Henderson International. Henderson International has to be compensated with 6% of the total net settlement which was to be deducted by the insurer and settled with Henderson International directly while the Government of St. Maarten pays the mobilization fee of NAF 100,000.00.
It should be noted that during the Council of Minister’s meeting held on December 15th, 2017 when this particular agenda point was handled Minister of VSA Emil Lee objected to the hiring of Henderson International even though an open and transparent bidding process was held. Lee did everything possible to convince the then Council of Ministers to hire his friends from Smith Orloff & Associates since he probably was going to get a kickback.
The former Government also had a National Decree prepared which was to be signed off by the Governor of St. Maarten but that decree was held back by the Interim Government (Leona Romeo Marlin cabinet that took office in January 2018.
On September 14th, 2018 Prime Minister Romeo Marlin dispatched a letter to Henderson International informing them that their company was not selected and that based on government files Henderson International was paid NAF100,000.00. Romeo-Marlin also asked Henderson International to submit a progress report to the Government of St. Maarten.
It is understood that Henderson International is busy seeking legal advice before responding to the Government of St. Maarten since they already signed a contract with the Government of St. Maarten.
Illegal Hiring of Smith Orloff & Associates.
While the Government of St. Maarten has informed NAGICO Insurances that Smith Orloff & Associates is the independent adjuster that will be working on behalf of government. Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin who is responsible for General Affairs did not conduct a second bidding, neither did she get an advice on the company she chose to hire because her colleague Minister Emil Lee suggested that Government engage the foreign company. The Prime Minister went ahead and submitted another National Decree to the Governor for signature while due diligence on the hiring was not done.
In a recent press briefing various questions were posed after SMN News broke the story about the hiring of Smith Orloff & Associates but to date the Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin and team cannot provide adequate information on the shady hiring of Smith Orloff & Associates which has a semblance of corruption as proper bidding procedures were not followed.
While NAGICO Insurances paid close to $6M to the Government of St. Maarten there are still a number of public buildings including schools that are not yet being repaired, yet the Romeo Marlin finds it fit to further frustrate and stagnate the process by hiring a new public adjuster more than year after the passing of Hurricane IRMA. At the moment the current coalition partners, UD and SMCP are not in agreement with the stagnation of the process especially since its hindering the rebuilding of all public buildings, one being the Philipsburg Jubilee Library.