WILLEMSTAD – The Court of First Instance of Curaçao sentenced the former director of the Refineria di Korsou (RdK) to 36 months in prison in the so-called Lacerta case.
Two other former employees of RdK and an external consultant were each sentenced to 30 months’ imprisonment. The Court considers it proven that the four men were guilty of requesting at least five million dollars in bribes from the Count / AOT company, which participated in the tender process to become RdK’s new strategic partner.
To this end, the four suspects organized, in addition to the official tender team, several private meetings with the representatives of this company, which they had kept secret from RdK. The four suspects have thus abused the high positions that two of them occupied within RdK, solely to serve their own financial interests.
A bribery scandal of this magnitude damages the image of the Country of Curaçao, which may deter future investors. The public prosecutor had demanded a five-year prison sentence against the director of the refinery and a four-year prison sentence against the others.
The General Court eased the sentence, among other things because of the consequences, this case has for the suspects and the fact that the bribes were ultimately not paid.
At the hearing, the suspects argued that they were innocent of bribery because they wanted to unmask Count / AOT’s representative in Curaçao or to investigate its reliability. One of them has argued that he was not even aware of this unmasking plan. The Court of First Instance does not believe those statements.
Not only has this “unmasking plan” been discussed at any time within RdK, which was the obvious thing to do, RdK had also incomplete information afterward. Also, in the correspondence between the suspects, it does not appear that their actions took place within the framework of such a plan.
The Court of First Instance, therefore, finds this interpretation of the events completely unbelievable and concludes that the proposal made by the suspects on 23 August 2018 is not part of a single unmasking plan, but concerns what is literally stated in that proposal, namely asking for millions dollars in bribes, in exchange for getting an agreement between RdK and Count / AOT.