Behind the Scenes largely based on DCA Apex of Criminal Management Joep Dohmen in Dutch newspaper NRC-Handelsblad, February 2005
Curators in the ALM bankruptcy affair have serious suspicions that this was a case of improper task execution or gross negligence with ALM management and staff. The airline's main handicap was its goverment ownership. Politicians and trade unionists got free rides, and government interfered with management. When Bonaire politicians wanted more flights, they got them, even though the flights lost money.
In 2000 the goverment-owned shares of ALM were transferred to Foundation ALM Beheer [management], a step to the company's planned privatization, which did not succeed as ALM had debts of over $150M. With Mario Evertsz as a manager ALM's debts were allowed to accumulate while assets transferred to DCA. To avoid a bankruptcy, a turn-around plan was devised where all assets went to DCA while ALM got stuck with the debts. Island government agreed with this set-up. Bas Kooijman, prominent businessman, still maintains the appointment of Evertsz was a sound decision. Yet another foundation, DC-Beheer, took over all buildings and stocks from ALM-Beheer. This was not agreeable to ALM's debtors, who often refused service to DCA until the bill was paid. As a result, the start-through took place with a negative capital and a cash-flow problem. The rest, like ALM, is history.
Mario Evertsz, born in Aruba around 1940, after his study in Holland became director of Kodela utility company in 1979, when it was taken over from OGEM by the Curaçao government. In 1982, already manager of telephone company Setel as well, he became director of CDM Curaçao Dok Maatschappij [Curaçao Drydock Company], then reputedly the largest drydock facility in the Western hemisphere, but in severe trouble. In 1990 he became a member of the government Energy Commission. He finally became manager of DCA in 2000. No wonder the guy, who had been elected Antillean Man of the Year several times, got nicknamed Supermario. But in 2004, when DCA went bankrupt, it turned out he was not so super.
Many times, these companies became at least partly privatized. Without public invitation of tenders, tasks went to friends and relatives. In 1990 Evertsz started his EMG Effective Management Group. It was very effective, for him: For starters, EMG would handle Kodela's management. To accomplish this, EMG hired Evertsz and other Kodela managers and chartered them back out, resulting in a hefty fee. The same thing happened in all government-owned companies where Supermario had a say. Between 1990 and 2000 Setel and Kodela were conspicuous builders, as well. There were more ways to make money. CDM started a Dutch company Curdin Trading in 1990, which handled all purchases for Antillean government-owned companies; these had to order everything through Curdin, even if there were better offers elsewhere. One example is that of the solar street lights. When Philips Antilliana at another occasion offered lights for half of Curdin's price, they had to be bought from Curdin regardless. Curdin was managed by Evertsz' EMG as well, with a fee of 1% of Curdin's yearly turnover. All the companies he led had one thing in common: Untransparent management. They did often not even take the trouble to publish yearly accounting reports, faked or not.
The Cuban government had a $7M debt with CDM, which was used for a (politically approved, you bet) 1992 'joint venture', where CDM and Cuba split shares in a company having yards in Havana and Willemstad. However, when that partnership ended in 2001 Cuba still had a $5M debt and CDM was still making a yearly loss of €5M. Meanwhile, the Antillean government had been subsidzing CDM with many millions over many years. Half of CDM's shares were owned by Natly Holdings Establishment, which company charged CDM a total of $20M from 1992-2002 for "rent of the Cuban yard." It was impossible to find out who owns that Liechtenstein firm. Another handy result of using Curaçao and Liechtenstein off-shore companies was evasion of the USA embargo on trade with Cuba.
Curaçao Corruption Networks courtesy R. Cijntje
Significant is that when EMG tried to grab complete management of Kodela, the trade union was strongly opposed.
But Evertsz had many more operations going to keep him busy and make some more money. With his friend Leo Rolfast and others he had a lot of real estate deals. He managed many trust companies. Because of this concentration of power in one person, the situation in the Curaçao energy sector was characterized as highly dangerous in a Dutch report. But, as Supermario had taken care to cultivate excellent contacts with virtually all politicians by the honored system of financial party support. Those same politicians could not control him, even if they had wanted to. As members of the board they had no inkling of the problems in managing utilities, not even in the financial aspects. Not a quarter of them could read an accounting balance. Neither did they care, as long as the money kept flowing into their private coffers.
Joep Dohmen ends by quoting Leo Rolfast, Mario's 'best friend': Mario's main drive was not the money.
Well, he could have fooled all of us - and mostly did. Supermario? He's the pits.
But as long as we tolerate politicians having power, we're just asking for this sort of thing.
It's not hard to understand how Leo Rolfast would have become Mario's Superfriend. He got the contract for two rebuildings, again without any public tender invitation, and a job as Manager Vliegdienst for which he had no experience.
When the same Joep Dohmen (on whose articles this page is based) later started allegations directed at Chief Justice Luis de Lannoy, because he presided in a case against a company owned by his brother-in-law Rolfast, de Lannoy was plainly irked and irritated, declaring he had never known about Rolfast's involvement: I haven't even seen the guy for years, anyway.
PM MLP as big a criminal as most of her colleagues
In the early 1990s ALM had about 1100 workers. In discussions with then P.M. Maria Liberia Peters she categorically refused to fire any; the generally held opinion was that their jobs were more important to the economy than ALM's yearly $5M-10M loss. By far most of these held administrative jobs. Most delays were caused by insufficient ground handling personnel, but in the offices Parkinson reigned. A computer system was bought and installed but the trade unions never permitted it to be used.
In the commotion on the solar street lights, which blew over without business resulting when MLP just clammed up and ordered everybody to refrain from comment, the role of Supermario's Effective Management Group bears looking into. Why did she not just blame that company for the higher prices? As an English newspaper might weasel-write, is it hard to imagine that she might not want to rock the boat?
It is highly satisfactory to many of us that she is held personably responsible for many of DCA's liabilities.
This is the same woman who, as a prime minister, reputedly got an ANG5K/month salary from contractor De Antillen. It was she who welcomed the Church of Scientology in Curaçao, just while it was getting itself banned as a criminal organization in England, France and Germany. Their ship Freewind was refurbished by that same CDM, while the crew staid in a house owned by her. One wonders exactly who paid whom, how much, and for what, at that occasion.