PHILIPSBURG--Finance Department Head Bastiaan "Bas" Roorda has been fired by the Council of Ministers with just about two years left on his contract. His service was terminated via a ministerial decision taken on Thursday.
Roorda confirmed his termination when contacted by The Daily Herald, but declined to state the grounds given by the ministers. However, he said he would look further into his situation and his options on Monday, preferring to "let things calm down" during the weekend.
Finance Minister Hiro Shigemoto, when contacted about the dismissal, confirmed that Roorda had been dismissed, but did not give any details about why the decision had been taken.
With the island's budget issues weighting heavily on government's agenda, indications are that Roorda's termination is somehow linked to that and his dealings with the CFT.
As word of the dismissal spread, there was some speculation in the community that Roorda's termination had to do with his providing information to investigators related to a probe at St. Maarten Tourist Bureau last year that resulted in two senior staff members being suspended from duty. They later returned to their jobs after a civil case.
Prosecutor Bart den Hartigh confirmed that Roorda had been questioned by detectives working on the Tourist Bureau case, but declined to provide any details concerning the nature of the questioning and the information provided by Roorda.
He said the investigations in the Tourist Bureau case were still ongoing, but given the workload at the Prosecutor's Office it was not expected that this case would be handled in court any time soon.
According to information received by this newspaper, the filing of the case was not linked to Roorda's firing.
Roorda was hired as interim Head of Finance in December 2009, by then-commissioner of finance Xavier Blackman, who had described him as a financial "heavyweight."
His appointment drew some criticism from the Netherlands at the time, because he had been involved in a legal dispute with the municipality of Valkenswaard near Eindhoven for the most part of 2009 over structures on his property constructed without the proper building permits.
The incident ignited a political firestorm for Roorda, whose VVD faction was accused of "vriendjespolitiek" (friendship politics) and unethical practices by political opponents.
At the time of the political upheaval concerning his home, he was the VVD faction leader in Valkenswaard.
The VVD party has been extremely vocal about financial reform on the islands.
Roorda was the director of his own company, Tall Tree Technology B.V., a consultancy firm that provides general financial expertise, at the time he was hired by the government.
He holds an MBA in Accounting from Institute van Ishoven and has been the financial manager of several private companies in the Netherlands, including R&S Renewable Energy Systems (financial services industry) and Zetek Power Products (renewable and environment industry).