Aruba Alert about Banking and BusinessIf you are American and entertaining thoughts of investing in the Caribbean lookat what has happened to a multimillion dollar Spa Americans thought was agoodinvestment. Not only did they lose their money when that Spa was closedunannounced and without legal precedencebut later that World Class Spa wassold by Aruba Bank for less than 3% of the money invested in it to the Hotelwho allegedly help close it down. Now they have found themselves in a courtbattle where the Banking system, attorneys, accountants and the courtsseemingly are under the spell and influence of an alleged criminal enterprise. Itwould seem unlikely that this could go on without knowledge of Governmentofficials all the way to The Netherlands. This is not the US. These people on thisIsland are either working for the system or are victims. There are hundreds ofstories not being told as the enterprise has a veiled threat out against anyonewho speaks outagainst the system ortells their story.COMMENTARY Go through the evidence. It is overwhelmingly one sided. If you have a singleshred of moral Integrity and this doesn’t send you fuming I would be surprised.No Bank lends ¾ of a Million USD to a predatory choke, pulls standardprotective language from its contract, and fails to appoint the independentsupervisor, the most critical person to keep costs in check yet forces theplaintiffs to pay for one. Then in an alleged act of collusion stand by while theirinvestment is being boycotted by the Hotel, then when the boycott drains theBank accounts low enough close their viable active running 5000 client Spadown, unannounced, with complete disregard for the law or legal proceedingsthinking the plaintiffs have no money for attorneys. It wouldn’t matter anywayas its alleged the attorneys are all working for the alleged enterprise. 20Employees lost their jobs just days before Christmas,clients were sent away
with unfinished paid for treatments; they then say we never closed it downeven testifying to that in court. Then the following day after Aruba Bank’sManagers Anthony and Deslene distinctly said in court we did not close the Spa,the Bailiff they hired through a voice recording and written notarized testimonystates the Bank did close it down through him as he was instructed. Aruba Bankthen lets the Spa sit for two months unused and for the reason in the words ofthe Bailiff the Bank and Eduardo were negotiating a price. After the closing theSpa sat for two months not advertised for sale then Aruba Bank sells thatturnkey multimillion dollar Spa to the Hotel for 3 % of the actual investedmoney or 40K USD they borrowed to the Plaintiffs. That sale was advertisedjust once 12 hours before the public auction, in one paper while they claimthat’s all we could get. The estimated value of that Spa within a sale packageincluding the Hotel would bring 7 million minimum USD. For that sale to theHotel to happen for 40K USD without another person being allowed to bidaccording to testimony of others present at the auction, and without legalauthority is not only a tragedy but criminal. Since the sale of that million Dollarasset to the Hotel Aruba Bank has harassed the Plaintiffs continuously aboutcollateral when there was more than adequate value in that Spa that wasillegally closed and sold for pennies on the dollar its actual worth by ArubaBank. There is a strong suspicion that money or value exchanged hands underthe table and the Bank allegedly received payment for that Spa that wasreasonable even though to this day the same people that allegedly lied in courtabout the closing, claim they have received nothing for the Spa and there wasnever any collaboration between them and Eduardo De Veer. This is howbusiness is done in Aruba. Until the Judicial part of the Dutch Antilles serves itsintended ethical purpose the alleged criminals will continue to create theBusiness Banking atmosphere that will isolate these tiny Islands from the rest ofthe civilized western business world.AMIGOE NIEWS CURACAO
Entrepreneurs Aqua Spa fight onSunday, 28 October 2012 17:02ORANJESTAD — In the multi-million claims case against Arubabank and RiffortVillage/Renaissance Hotel, the bank recently lied before the judge, said Arubanentrepreneurs who instituted proceedings based on new evidence.A decision on this case from the meanwhile bankrupt beauty parlor Aqua Spa atthe Renaissance Hotel on Curaçao is scheduled for Monday, October 29. Thecase had come up in court on September 18 on which the Amigoe reported onSeptember 20. At the time the judge already paid much attention to the role ofArubabank in the company‘s ruin. Entrepreneurs Hassell-Lopez (mother Menaand son Emile) claimed almost 12 million florins because they alleged the bankhad connived with Renaissance so that the hotel could take over the spa for verylittle.Attachment of goodsIn court the judge mainly asked questions as to why the bank – when there was aquestion of arrears with the entrepreneurs – had closed the spa for two monthsand left the contents inside. A clear answer wasn‘t given in court becauseArubabank made it clear that it hadn‘t actually closed the business on December22, 2010. The bank implied in court that the spa could have continued itsbusiness. The bank had gone to the spa with a bailiff that day but only to takestock. By its own account the bank took that action because it feared theentrepreneurs would try to sell the insolvent spa. After all the bank had tried tocontact spa-director Emile for days and on December 17 the bank finally visitedmother Mena Lopez who supposedly mentioned the sale at the time. For thatmatter, the entrepreneurs categorically deny the sale.After the session in court on September 18 the entrepreneurs immediately startedcollecting new evidence against what the two bank employees had stated beforethe judge. A conversation followed with the bailiff and personnel from Arubabank,who unexpectedly visited the spa and immediately closed the business. Thisbailiff states he acted by order of the bank to place an attachment on the goods.According to him, this automatically means closing the business immediately.The request to place an attachment had already been made on December 7,according to a letter from the lawyer currently representing Arubabank in thiscase. The Arubabank lied once again to the judge on having waited until afterDecember 17 to take action, said Lopez.Matter of principle
The bailiff also stated that the auction of the seized goods was held severalmonths later because Arubabank negotiated with Eduardo de Veer Jr. fromRenaissance on how much De Veer would pay for the goods. EntrepreneursHassell and Lopez consider this further evidence for their proposition that thegoods were sold for next to nothing so that Renaissance could eventually reopenthe spa quickly on its own. During the auction the goods were sold to De Veer for76,000 florins. It was a public auction and according to a statement from anotherbeauty specialist who wanted to make a bid, everyone who had come felt theywere taken for a ride because apparently there was already an agreement thatRenaissance would buy the business. The entrepreneurs also query thisconsidering their current debt of 1.6 million which Arubabank had reclaimedwhile the bank had sold their goods for a very low price. According to Lopez, thisalso proves that the bank had lied about their collaboration with Renaissance.Lopez, who had a spa for years on Aruba, says this case has now become amatter of principle. ―Behind our backs the bank negotiated with Renaissance totake over the spa, thus violating ethic rules. I don‘t want to become 80 years andlive with this dishonesty for years. We call this swindle here. During the courtsession the lawyer of Renaissance spoke of the goose with the golden eggs andthat the hotel must not become a playground for companies. However, it happensto be their playground and they have the goose with the golden eggs while theyand the bank abuse their power to put pressure on an ambitious entrepreneur.‖This pressure continues said Lopez because despite the trial bailiffs still pay hersalon on Aruba unexpected visits. She finds the conduct of the Arubabank – ‗I‘mnot talking about all banks because I had a good relation with RBC for example‘ –and the lying shocking. ―Like many, I‘ve been raised to respect banks. They are tocomply with high ethical standards; that‘s how they promote themselves. At first Icouldn‘t believe their intentions and it took some time before I understood. That‘swhy I always compare my shock with that of the reports on abuse in the CatholicChurch.‖EventsIn any case Lopez will never borrow from a bank again. She sees events as theupcoming Aruba Small Business Week as a ‗front‘ to get entrepreneurs tocontract a loan. ―I know them because I too visited such events. It soundspromising for the average entrepreneur who has little time and listens toinformation that is aiming too high. These are socializing events where food anddrinks are served, something comparable to falling in love. However, the wake-upcall comes once you‘ve signed. Signing a loan agreement with Arubabank withpersonal surety is like Hotel California to me: you can check out but you cannever leave.‖ Lopez advises other entrepreneurs to use their savings or bring in
capital together with other equal partners. ―Take it slow, and grow step by stepon your own.‖On her trial she states: ―the judge also urged for a settlement and was preparedto give more time. Lopez says there‘ve been approaches by Arubabank andRenaissance since September 18 but there‘s nothing concrete as yet. If theverdict next Monday is not in her favor, the entrepreneur will not give up. ―It‘sbecome a matter of principle; this is not how you treat people.‖No commentArubabank and Renaissance said they wouldn‘t comment while the trial is inprogress. As reported earlier by the Amigoe they deny the conspiracy. Theyblame the downfall of Aqua Spa on inexperience, especially of director Hassell,and consider this the risk of entrepreneurship.Posted from:http://www.oas.org/juridico/Spanish/RepoBM.htmTHE FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IN LATIN AMERICAAND THE CARIBBEAN…A World Bank ViewThis story is an excerpt from the link aboveThe economic and social costs of corruptionCorruption imposes massive costs on countries and ordinary citizens. First, it corrodes publicinstitutions by subverting laws, regulations and institutional checks and balances. Consequently, itundermines the legitimacy and credibility of the state, causing serious problems in governance.Second, it affects macro-economic stability by encouraging wasteful, ineffective governmentexpenditures and tax evasion. Third, it discourages investment, especially foreign direct investment. Ithas been estimated that the ratio of investment to GDP is 16 percent lower in countries with high andunpredictable levels of corruption than those with low levels of corruption. Fourth, corruption raises thecost of doing business. In a World Bank survey of 3,600 firms in 69 countries, more than 40 percent ofentrepreneurs reported having to pay bribes routinely to get things done. In addition to the financialburden it imposes, corruption also leads to other inefficiencies by entangling firms in time-consumingand economically unproductive interactions with the public sector.As a result, of these factors, corruption obstructs economic growth and development. Also, countrieswith high levels of corruption face a serious risk of marginalization in the global economy.
Unfortunately, the burden of corruption falls disproportionately on the poor. The siphoning off ofpublic resources for private gain dries up anti-poverty programs, while the demand for bribeseffectively shuts off the poor from access to public goods and services.From the point of view of international development agencies such as the World Bank, corruptionreduces the development impact of international assistance to developing countries. At the same time,the perception, that in many developing countries aid resources are misappropriated by corrupt publicofficials, weakens the long-standing consensus on aid programs.Corruption: What is the Way Forward?Corruption is not an independent phenomenon, but a sign of broader governance problems. Whereinvestors perceive corruption problems, they also typically perceive greater risks of doing businessbecause of unpredictable changes in policies and laws, more insecure property rights, more unreliablejudiciaries, and poorer bureaucracies. In short, corruption is associated with a broader weakness inthe rule of law.There is much that we still do not know about the roots of corruption and poor governance, but thisdeep-rootedness of corruption indicates that solutions must be correspondingly broad, that they willtake a long time, and that progress in the fight against corruption will be difficult and irregular. The ruleof law is likely to be fostered by fundamental political changes which go in the direction of increaseddemocratic participation, better public information, and better government accountability. Suchchanges are brought about by society as a whole, not just by governments. Short cuts in this process willbe difficult: for instance, narrowly focused initiatives, such as anti-corruption laws or commissions, areless likely to take root where the rule of law is weak.But this is not to say that countries are condemned to being passive about corruption. Governments canact, and are acting, in several areas.First, promoting private ownership of productive resources and allowing competitive markets to workreduces the opportunity for corruption because it removes the discretion that public officials wield. Forinstance, the central licensing of foreign exchange formerly practiced by many Latin American countriesoften created an artificial scarcity of foreign exchange leading to black markets and huge "premia" whichled to substantial corruption. State ownership of firms, in many countries, allowed public officials to usepublic resources for private ends, rather than serve the public interest. Latin America has made muchprogress in reducing these kinds of distortions, but there is still substantial room for further reforms byreducing levels of protection, eliminating privileges and inequalities in trade and tax regimes, simplifyingrules, reducing, where possible, the discretion of public officials, and further privatizing state-ownedfirms.Second, a more honest and capable state is necessary, not only to ensure that the strong do notexploit the weak in a regime of private markets and property, but also to provide thepublic servicesthat underpin the rule of law and provide services that help the less privileged.
In some areas of the market governments must regulate or help maintain consistent standards (inbanking supervision or natural monopolies, for instance) if markets are to be effective.Where there is political will, governments can undertake a whole range of actions to establish a moretransparent and accountable system of public finance, procurement, and audit and a moreprofessionalized and better-paid civil service.Judiciaries must also be modernized and their independence from undue political influence balancedwith their accountability to the public.It’s fairly simple. With the power the Banks possess here in the Dutch Antilles you see interest rateson Home Loans, 400 Basis points higher than in the Netherlands and the US.Why? Puerto Rico anIsland of the US in the Caribbean has interest rates comparable to the Banks of the USA. You seeIt’snot a matter of economics but of ethics and greed. The Netherlands are aware. It’s suspected they areusing their Islands as a playground at the expense of the peopleof the Antilles. No mother countrywhose integrity is intact allows this to happen to its citizens. Corruption exists and will continue toisolate these countries in an increasing manner as the stories continue to surface. If wedon’t addressthe issue now than when shall we? Very few benefit from this. The countries whose governments areoperated through criminal enterprises are held back or crushed under the weight of its existence allthe while the rest of the world moves forward. Haiti, here we come.http://www.slideshare.net/Homealoneagain