ABO News - Home | Aruba BankAMIGOE ARUBAEntrepreneurs Aqua Spa fight onSunday, 28 October 2012 17:02ORANJESTAD — In the multi-million claims case against Aruba Bank andRiffort Village/Renaissance Hotel, the bank recently lied before the judge,said Aruban entrepreneurs who instituted proceedings based on newevidence.A decision on this case from the meanwhile bankrupt beauty parlor Aqua Spaat the Renaissance Hotel on Curaçao is scheduled for Monday, October 29.The case had come up in court on September 18 on which the Amigoereported on September 20. At the time the judge already paid much attentionto the role of Aruba Bank in the company‘s ruin. Entrepreneurs Hassell-Lopez(mother Mena and son Emile) claimed almost 12 million florins because theyalleged the bank had connived with Renaissance so that the hotel could takeover the spa for very little.Attachment of goodsIn court the judge mainly asked questions as to why the bank – when therewas a question of arrears with the entrepreneurs – had closed the spa fortwo months and left the contents inside. A clear answer wasn‘t given in courtbecause Aruba Bank made it clear that it hadn‘t actually closed the businesson December 22, 2010. The bank implied in court that the spa could havecontinued its business. The bank had gone to the spa with a bailiff that daybut only to take stock. By its own account the bank took that action becauseit feared the entrepreneurs would try to sell the insolvent spa. After all thebank had tried to contact spa-director Emile for days and on December 17the bank finally visited mother Mena Lopez who supposedly mentioned thesale at the time. For that matter, the entrepreneurs categorically deny thesale.
After the session in court on September 18 the entrepreneurs immediatelystarted collecting new evidence against what the two bank employees hadstated before the judge. A conversation followed with the bailiff andpersonnel from Aruba Bank, who unexpectedly visited the spa andimmediately closed the business. This bailiff states he acted by order of thebank to place an attachment on the goods. According to him, thisautomatically means closing the business immediately. The request to placean attachment had already been made on December 7, according to a letterfrom the lawyer currently representing Aruba Bank in this case. The ArubaBank lied once again to the judge on having waited until after December 17to take action, said Lopez.Matter of principleThe bailiff also stated that the auction of the seized goods was held severalmonths later because Aruba Bank 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 thatthe goods were sold for next to nothing so that Renaissance could eventuallyreopen the spa quickly on its own. During the auction the goods were sold toDe Veer for 76,000 florins. It was a public auction and according to astatement from another beauty specialist who wanted to make a bid,everyone who had come felt they were taken for a ride because apparentlythere was already an agreement that Renaissance would buy the business.The entrepreneurs also query this considering their current debt of 1.6million which Aruba Bank had reclaimed while the bank had sold their goodsfor a very low price. According to Lopez, this also proves that the bank hadlied 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 Renaissanceto take over the spa, thus violating ethic rules. I don‘t want to become 80years and live with this dishonesty for years. We call this swindle here.During the court session the lawyer of Renaissance spoke of the goose withthe golden eggs and that the hotel must not become a playground forcompanies. However, it happens to be their playground and they have the
goose with the golden eggs while they and the bank abuse their power to putpressure on an ambitious entrepreneur.‖ This pressure continues said Lopezbecause despite the trial bailiffs still pay her salon on Aruba unexpectedvisits. She finds the conduct of the Aruba Bank – ‗I‘m not talking about allbanks because I had a good relation with RBC for example‘ – and the lyingshocking. ―Like many, I‘ve been raised to respect banks. They are to complywith 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‘s why I always compare my shock with that of the reports on abuse inthe Catholic Church.‖EventsIn any case Lopez will never borrow from a bank again. She sees events asthe upcoming 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 foodand drinks are served, something comparable to falling in love. However, thewake-up call comes once you‘ve signed. Signing a loan agreement withAruba Bank with personal surety is like Hotel California to me: you can checkout but you can never leave.‖ Lopez advises other entrepreneurs to use theirsavings or bring in capital together with other equal partners. ―Take it slow,and grow step by step on your own.‖On her trial she states: ―the judge also urged for a settlement and wasprepared to give more time. Lopez says there‘ve been approaches by ArubaBank and Renaissance since September 18 but there‘s nothing concrete asyet. If the verdict next Monday is not in her favor, the entrepreneur will notgive up. ―It‘s become a matter of principle; this is not how you treat people.‖No commentAruba Bank 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 directorHassell, and consider this the risk of entrepreneurship.