Island Government Saba Feels Duped By Bonaire’s Interim Registrar De Wolff

The website Koninkrijksrelaties reports that the island government of Saba feels duped by Arjen de Wolff, the current interim registrar of Bonaire. He was paid for work that he never delivered, the public entity confirmed in response to questions from DossierKoninkrijksrelaties. The special municipality would have been disadvantaged to the tune of several tens of thousands of dollars.

Arjen de Wolff, the current interim registrar of Bonaire

In May 2022, the public entity Saba hired De Wolff (at that time the most important advisor to opposition leader Clark Abraham on Bonaire) because of his supposed legal knowledge and political experience to support the registry and the Island Council in the reconstruction of the official organization. An agreement was entered into for one year with the possibility of an extension. According to insiders, the order amounted to around $100,000.

Growing doubt
De Wolff — unemployed after being fired for the umpteenth time — went to work, but doubts soon arose about his commitment and the quality of his work. He was confronted about this, but because there was no improvement, the Island Council unanimously came to the final conclusion that the hired worker should not be considered capable of properly carrying out the agreed work.

In the subsequent informal conversation with the then deputy registrar of Saba about ending the collaboration, De Wolff was asked to refund part of the order paid in full in advance. However, he took the position that “there were no grounds for reclaiming part of the payment” and refused to refund even a cent.

Fear of hassle
The Island Council subsequently decided to terminate the collaboration with immediate effect. Even though it involved public money (De Wolff was paid from the Island Council budget), it was decided not to initiate a collection procedure because it was feared that it would involve “a lot of hassle”. According to unofficial reports, Saba lost around $40,000.

In the context of hearing both sides, the editors of DossierKoninkrijksrelaties have invited De Wolff to give his interpretation of the arguments put forward by Saba for terminating the collaboration and his refusal to return the excess amount collected. He has so far left unanswered the questions submitted to him by email on Thursday, March 7.

Not long after the break with Saba, De Wolff was appointed as interim island registrar on Bonaire in May 2023 at the insistence of PDB leader and personal friend Abraham. Within the PDB, people were aware of the poor performance on the sister island. Moreover, it was common knowledge that De Wolff had left a trail of dissatisfied employers/clients, including most recently STINAPA and the National Library of Curacao. In October, the Island Council agreed to de Wolff’s request to grant him a salary increase of about $9,000.

Saba have had it completely with De Wolff. This became clear last week during the working conference in the Netherlands where the Island Councils of the BES islands consulted with State Secretary Van Huffelen about the revision of the WoIBES and FinBES. The Saba delegation visibly did its best to stay as far away from De Wolff as possible. The straw that broke the camel’s back is the recent statement in a broadcast by a Bonairean radio station that Saba has an “inbreeding problem”.

New job
This was the reason for the Island Council of Bonaire to apologize in writing to the deeply offended people of Saba, but no consequences were attached to the position of the interim registrar. De Wolff has been asked by Deputy Abraham to become a senior strategic advisor to the Executive Council as of May 1.

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