Kunneman: Antilles not a "pirates' country"

The Antilles are not “pirates’ islands” but a prominent country in the sector of financial services. This is the message Frank Kunneman, lawyer and vice-president of the Advisory Council, expressed yesterday during an international seminar in Brussels.

Yesterday, during the world congress of the International Fiscal Association (IFA) in Brussels, in which over fifty countries are represented, Kunneman spoke. “Curaçao is sometimes called pirates’ territory. Is this a myth or a fact?”, the lawyer and president of the Advisory Council asked, to finally respond himself: "Curaçao and the Antilles have their affairs in order when it concerns good governance of enterprises."
In 2004, the country laid down a new code of conduct for management, financial rules, and supervision. This code contains elements with which one is ahead of the Netherlands, Kunneman emphasized. As an example he mentioned the possibility to conduct an investigation with foundations.
Important elements of the Antilles code of conduct for Directors are rules for management, liability, rights of shareholders, and rules concerning bankruptcies.
Kunneman pointed out that under the old Antilles legislation and the current Netherlands legislation Directors have two relationships with their companies. On the one hand a relationship with the shareholders, on the other an employment contract with the company.
According to the lawyer, it happened in the past that the shareholders dismissed a Director, but that it was “forgotten” to also terminate the employment contract. Consequently, the dismissed Directors of the company still received a salary. “This cost a lot of money,” Kunneman observed. Under the current legislation this is no longer possible, he explained.
Furthermore, the lawyer pointed out that Directors, such as Managing Directors, are personally liable towards their own company when they make major mistakes. “If one of three Managing Directors makes a mistake, they are all liable for the entire loss,” he stated. Kunneman emphasized that in that case there has to be question of major mistakes, for instance fraud or taking irresponsible risks. In case of a bankruptcy, the Directors can also be held liable personally if their mismanagement has led to the bankruptcy, Kunneman continued. This is mainly the case if financial statements are not completed in time, or the financial records are not sound.

The lawyer also pointed at the future: next year the Antilles introduce a statutory code for good governance in public enterprises.

Finally, he informed the approximately 1,500 participants in the IFA world congress of the fight against criminal money laundering and the financing of terrorism. A fight in which the Antilles “fully participate”, according to him. Last year, for instance, the Central Bank conducted eighteen audits with credit institutions in the Antilles, the lawyer said.
The Central Bank also audited a total of fifty trust companies in 2007, while special attention was paid to money laundering and financing of terrorism. Kunneman came to the conclusion that the Antilles and Curaçao “perform very well”. It is a myth that countries in the Caribbean are pirates’ countries.”

(Source: National Newspaper Antilliaans Dagblad)

2 September 2008

Frank B.M. Kunneman is the Managing Partner at the law firm VanEps Kunneman VanDoorne.


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