The board of directors of the Tourism Development Company (TDC) has been dismissed.
Sources close to the TDC board and the Ministry of Tourism confirmed that Tourism Minister Rupert Griffith met with the directors recently, following which they were informed that they needed to wrap up all outstanding board business by November 30.
Sources said the move to dismiss the directors stems out of an issue involving the renewal of the contract of Lara de Sonpere, sister-in-law of Minister of Sport Anil Roberts. The board was unable to resolve the de Sonpere issue. She was hired in 2009 under the PNM administration. The TDC human resources manager Anthea Davis offered to renew d Sonpere’s contract starting July 27, 2011. But in early November, the board decided, acting on advice from an attorney, to terminate de Sonpere’s contract.
TDC chairman George Stanley Beard supported a measure that the TDC should make an $120,000 ex gratia payment to de Sonpere, representing three months salary.
Fellow board member and chairman of the Tenders Committee Kevin Ratiram warned Beard about making the payment, saying that the board, and not the chairman, was the highest authority in the TDC.
“No director can override a board decision or mandate,” he said in a letter to Beard.
De Sonpere said in a Guardian newspaper story that politics was at play and she only wanted to be paid what was owed to her-salaries for October and November as well as $20,000 for medical expenses for injuries she sustained on the job.