From Noticia Cla in 2016

I found this on line from Noticia Cla in 2016.

It talks coherently about the scandal involving the former minister of tourism Briesen who is personally liable for US$1.5 in damages following the cancellation of a series of promised/contracted concerts. The island of Aruba was sued over the past decades by the office of music promoter Lee Tofanelli over a broken contract. Last week the Aruba parliament passed a law, requested by GOA, to free the former MEP politician from debt, and let the country assume the responsibility and the financial burden.

Noticia Cla describes well how frivolously everyone in public office is behaving, making decisions with minimal strategic thinking, and zero long-term considerations.

Personally, I always though that the concerts were an extravagance, and that indeed the ROI did not justify the HUGE investment. I always suspected the Tofanelli relationship. Imagine a shrewd entertainment businessman dealing with country bumpkins. He was an excellent sales man, lit a fire under Briesen and bullied him into signing, without proper authorization. As he signed, Briesen allowed himself some magical thinking that all will work out, eventually.

We are still suffering the consequences.

ORANJESTAD – The Court has ruled on appeal that the Aruban government must still fulfill the contract with promoter Lee Tofanelli regarding the organization of the Aruba Music Festival (AMF) and on Tuesday overturned the judgment of the First Instance judge in this matter. Tofanelli had taken the government to court when they wanted to stop the agreement to continue organizing the AMF. The Minister of Tourism at the time, Otmar Oduber, wanted to get rid of the contract when he took office, because he said the former minister had acted in violation of the Accountability Regulation when concluding the agreement. Tofanelli lost the case at first instance, but has now won on appeal. The Court has determined that the Country must still comply with the agreement and that the Country, insofar as performance is no longer possible due to the lapse of time, must compensate LTA for the damage suffered and all legal costs.

CONTRACT

As is known, Lee Tofanelli signed contracts with the Aruban government in 2002 and 2004, on the basis of which he would annually organize the Aruban Music Festival. A budget was also agreed for this. At a certain point, the ATA (Aruba Tourism Authority), which was annually involved in the financial settlement of the AMF, decided that the budget had to be reduced, because the festival would not have a good price/revenue ratio. Despite this, the festival continued and in 2008 (the Country argued that this was shortly before the 2009 elections) the contract was extended and it was agreed that Tofanelli would also organize the festivals from 2010 to 2013. However, when a new government took office, the new minister at the time, Otmar Oduber, stopped everything. Tofanelli then took the government to court, with the well-known result.

STATEMENT

In this case, the Court rejected, among other things, the ATA’s argument that there is an urgent need to reduce the budget. According to the Court, it has also not become plausible that the agreement was entered into just before the elections solely to present the successor board with a fait accompli. According to the Court, the fact that Tofanelli has failed to provide the financial data has been contradicted with reasons and, according to the Court, it has no purpose. The Court concludes that the agreement has not been concluded in violation of the Accounting Ordinance and is legally valid and upholds Tofanelli’s claim. Insofar as performance is no longer possible, the Country must not only pay for the damage suffered (the amount is not mentioned, but the agreement is about 500 to 850 thousand dollars per year), but also all legal costs.

REACTION OTMAR ODUBER

NoticiaCla asked the former minister for a response, but he was not yet aware of the details of the ruling.

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December 21, 2022
Rona Coster