Henry Lynch wins case against housing foundation

PHILIPSBURG--St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation (SMHDF) has lost the appeal regarding the dismissal of Henry Lynch as the foundation’s former managing director, it emerged from the Court of Appeals ruling of Friday September 27.
 
  SMHDF officially dismissed Lynch, who was represented in these proceedings by attorney-at-law Cindy Marica, on February 4, 2015. As SMHDF lost the appeal, it was ordered to pay the cost of these legal proceedings, which was set at NAf. 16,782.50.
 
  The Court of First Instance had also declared on June 1, 2016, that Lynch’s dismissal was unlawful and ordered SMHDF to pay damages. However, SMHDF had appealed the verdict.
 
  In the initial proceedings Lynch was fighting claims made against him by SMHDF, ranging from fraud and failure to adhere to operational structures and Housing Foundation procedures, to nepotism, embezzlement and financial mismanagement. In total, SMHDF filed some 39 wide-ranging complaints against Lynch.
 
  Friday’s verdict not only re-affirmed the unlawful dismissal and the fact that there were insufficient grounds allowing SMHDF to do so, but also dismissed SMHDF’s pleadings to have the damages reduced or entirely scrapped.
 
  SMHDF was represented in these proceedings by attorney-at-law Jairo Bloem.
 
  The Court said that SMHDF had failed to provide sufficient evidence or had failed to properly substantiate its claims against Lynch. According to the Court of Appeals, other claims left too much room for doubt, while actions by the SMHDF board were unclear. It also remained unclear whether the procedures for dismissal had been followed correctly.
 
  The Court dismissed the appeal, including SMHDF’s objections to the compensation awarded to Lynch, which were found insufficiently substantiated.
 
  The Court of First Instance had ordered SMHDF to pay Lynch NAf. 5,000 in compensation. It should also pay Lynch’s salaries and emoluments from February 2015 up to and including November 2015 amounting to NAf. 19,371 per month, with six per cent vacation pay and with interest.
 
  Lynch entered SMHDF’s service as manager-assistant in 2009. He was appointed the foundation’s director as per January 1, 2011, and managing director from March 10, 2011.
 
  By letter of December 2014, he was informed there were “serious” suspicions of fraud, embezzlement, violation of human-resource procedures, forgery of documents and “deliberate” mismanagement of funds and assets of SMHDF, which were reason for the foundation to launch an investigation by Government Accountants Bureau SOAB.
 
  Pending these investigations Lynch was suspended, but retained his salaries. By letter of February 4, 2015, Lynch was informed that SMHDF would terminate his labour agreement, as he had refused to respond to the allegations that had led to his suspension.
 
  Lynch said in a statement on Sunday that he was “happy” that the “ordeal” was finally over so that he could move on with his life “without a dark cloud hanging” over him. He also thanked his attorney Marica for her “diligent work” on the case.
 
  “The last five years have not at all been easy. These things affect your family, your business, your peace of mind. It is emotionally draining. I want to wish God’s speed to anyone going through a legal battle. I needed the Lord’s guidance every step of the way,” Lynch said.
 
  “With this judgment it’s once again reiterated that the good corporate governance principles and procedures should not be taken lightly by supervisory board members in their decision-making processes,” attorney Marica said in commenting on this case. “Lynch was accused of some serious acts and was not allowed to rebuttal as he should have and the corporate principles and laws have been overstepped.”
 
Photo:  Former director of St. Maarten Housing Development Foundation Henry Lynch (right) with his attorney Cindy Marica

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