Legal Perspective

Legal Perspective (922)

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The tentacles of the "Octopus" investigation has pulled in more suspects.

Sources told our newsroom late Thursday night that three persons were detained as part of the ongoing vote buying investigation.

Early Friday morning Norman Serphos of the Attorney-General office based in Curacao confirmed that three (3) persons were detained for questioning and that two (2) of the three were arrested.

The arrested persons have not yet been identified.

This brings the count to five (5) persons that have now been arrested as part of this "Octopus" investigation.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - On Wednesday afternoon, the Attorney-General's office was given the green light to execute a search of the home of member of Parliament the Honorable Silvio Matser.

This decision by the judge to allow the search of the home of the MP is viewed as an indication of the seriousness of the evidence in the possession of the prosecutors office.

According to a release from the Attorney-General on Wednesday, MP Matser is suspected of bribing people to vote for him and the other detained suspects are suspected of acting as accomplices in the crime of "election fraud".

The investigation which is code named "Octopus", began in 2014 and then turned into a criminal investigation in 2015. Obviously the authorities believe that they have an air-tight case to move into the arrest phase of their investigation in 2016.

The attorney general also confirmed that In this case 3 arrests were made. They are S.M., E.F. and R.K. During one search at the home of E.F. drugs were found. In this case the female D.F. was arrested.

At the home of R.K. one luxury car and jewelry was confiscated. This in a separate investigation.

The police force of Sint Maarten (KPSM) and the RST agencies rendered assistance during the searches and arrest.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - During the draft 2016 National Budget debate on Monday, Minister of Justice the Honorable Edson Kiringdongo outlined some areas of priority for the justice chain.

Those include among others, the legal position of civil servants, public safety, the needs of the police force and the challenges that the prison faces.

Whilst speaking on the floor of Parliament, the Justice Minister stated that his ministry is working towards securing a life insurance policy for all staff of the ministry, and at the same time, addressing everyone concerns.

On the subject of public safety, Minister Kiringdongo noted that cameras will be placed in and around Philipsburg in their quest to improve police surveillance.

The Ministry will also be embarking on the realization of several projects as well, including the purchasing of the Soremer building in Cole Bay.

The Minister also told MPs that during his time in office some decisions will be taken. However, he fell short to say what those decisions are. More now via PodCast.

BES Islands - On August 28, 2012, the Wet ter voorkoming van witwassen en de financiering van terrorisme (in English: Act on Prevention of Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism) became in effect. The law requires business services, such as banks, lawyers and notaries, but also for example car dealers or real estate agents, to report unusual transactions to the central government.

The law has certain objective and subjective criteria provided. For example, any transaction above the amount of $ 11,000, = that is paid in cash, has to be reported. Unusual real estate transactions should also be reported. The Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of the Government will then consider whether the transaction is actually unusual and perhaps even suspicious. After this, further (criminal) investigation can be started.

Because business services have this obligation, a barrier is raised against financial malpractice or artificial arrangements. In addition, the obligation emphasize the business services to be extra careful. In this way, the law ensures that criminals and terrorists have more difficulties to bring their criminal funds into the economy.

In 2014, Bureau Toezicht WWFT investigated the fulfilment of the Wet ter voorkoming van witwassen en de financiering van terrorisme (BES WWFT BES) on Bonaire. This study has shown that a car dealer may not have fulfilled its reporting obligations.

In response to those findings, a criminal investigation was started by the Fiscale Inlichtingen en Opsporingsdienst (FIOD, in English Fiscal Intelligence and Investigation Service) of the Ministry of Finance, directed by the Openbaar Ministerie BES (in English: Public Prosecution BES). This research has led to the conclusion that on several occasions, the dealership did not report cash payments and, also on several times, has made insufficient customer due diligence. However, the suspect was under obligation to do so in accordance with the WWFT BES.

The Public Prosecution hold these facts very much against the suspect. It is well known that criminals often use their criminal assets to purchase new, expensive cars. By failing to report unusual transactions, the suspect makes it easier for criminals to launder their money, while he has the obligation to make this more difficult by reporting unusual payments to the FIU.

Defendant has failed to do so, but has also shown to have drawn lessons from the past. During the last control of the Bureau Toezicht WWFT in 2015, no irregularities were found. Therefore, the Public Prosecution has decided to set for a suspended dismissal. The suspect has to pay a fine of $ 20,000, =, with one year’s probation. That means that the OM will still proceed to prosecute if the suspect would make the same mistake during the probationary period.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Dutch side authorities are working in close collaboration with their French counterpart in their effort to recapture escaped prisoner, Kathron Fortune a.k.a “CUCHI”.

The convicted fugitive escaped from prison guards during a visit to a doctor’s office in Cay Hill on Monday February 15th.

Speaking at the Council of Minister press briefing, Minister of Justice, the Honorable Edson Kiringdongo told journalists that an internal investigation has also been launched into the escape of the prisoner.

It is not known if the convicted murderer is still on the island, however, according to the Justice Minister, escaping from the prison automatically gives one 9 additional years imprisonment, while the penalty in someone caught in aiding a fugitive carries a maximum of four years in the penitentiary.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The authorities are still investigating the bomb threat that was sent to SXM airport On November 22nd 2015.

As a result of the investigation a 42 year old British citizen, with initials B.A.R, was arrested on the 25th of December 2015.

Prosecutor Karola van Nie confirmed that the suspect is still behind bars as the investigation continues.

On Wednesday a performa hearing at the court house took place and it has now been decided that the suspect will have his day in court on the 23rd of March 2016.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The authorities were busy Thursday morning conducting a raid in the district of Cole Bay.

Motorworld the car dealership was visited by a team of mostly Dutch investigators as well as the Judge of Instruction and the Court Recorder.

Press Prosecutor Karola van Nie confirmed the raid Thursday and quickly pointed out that Motorworld is not a suspect in their investigation but that they were seeking information on the purchase of some vehicles that forms part of their investigation.

Prosecutor van Nie did not provide further information based on the sensitivity of the case.

It should however be noted that on January 26, 2016 the Criminal Investigation Team (RST) seized in close collaboration with the Police Corps of Sint Maarten at various places on the island total of nine cars. These cars were owned by a car rental agency.

The seizure was done based on the strong suspicion that these were purchased with money that has, among other things been obtained from the trade in narcotics and that money was laundered through the rental company.

The owner of the rental company some time ago was shot on the French side. As a result an investigation was started by the RST under the direction of the Public Prosecution Service on St. Maarten.

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PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - In the morning hours on Sunday January 10th 2016, human remains/bones were found by hikers walking through a trail on the Arlette B. Peters road; also know as the Old Cake House road in the Cay Hill area.

The Police Forensic Department did an investigation on the scene whereby several bones and clothing were collected as evidence.

Due to the condition of the bones an archeologist was called in to do an investigation.

The results from this investigation were that the bones were human; the gender is male, between the ages of 25-35 years old, slim and short posture, not taller than 1.66 meter and has a gold teeth.

The estimated time the body was lying on the scene is between 9 and 18 months.

It is suspected that this person did not die of natural causes and as a result hereof a criminal investigation has started.

An investigation on missing persons on the Dutch and French side of the island for a possible identification was done, but had no positive results. This person remains unidentified.

The police department is taking this opportunity to reach out to families in the community who have been missing a family member fitting this description to come forward and call the police on the tip line #9300, 54-22222ext. 214/215 or contact us on our Face book page.

PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - The police force of St. Maarten is now conducting an investigation of a shooting which took place in Middle Region at around 9:45 Wednesday night.

According to the Police Spokesman Inspector Ricardo Henson, a man reported that he was shot through the back of his car in Middle Region, he however managed to drive his car to Cul-de-sac where he was met by the police patrol and Ambulance personnel.

The car was observed parked at the Cul-de-sac gas station.

He was then taken to the St. Maarten Medical Center where he is being treated for his injuries.

Henson stated that a full investigation has been launched into this latest shooting incident.

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PHILIPSBURG, St. Maarten - Police arrested a male suspect with initials K.C.L.B. (26) on Monday February 8th at approximately 01.30 p.m. in the Sucker Garden area.

The suspect, for whom a warrant for his arrest was issued in connection with an ongoing for ill-treatment, threat and fire-arm possession, was identified by a police patrol on the Walter Nisbeth road.

A short pursuit by the patrol lead them to a home in Sucker Garden, which the suspect fled into.

The suspect was arrested on the scene and a search of the home was done, because the suspect in question is known to carry a fire-arm at all times. During the search a loaded pistol was found and confiscated.

The suspect remains in custody for further investigation.

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