WILLEMSTAD – The Court of First Instance of Curaçao today sentenced a former Minister of Health, Environment and Nature, her husband and a former friend of that spouse for fraud corruption. A policy advisor from the former minister was acquitted of all accusations.
The judgment of the Court of First Instance relates to an investigation which is based on the name “Dubnium” and is aimed at the events surrounding the purchase of 40,000 surgical face masks by the Foundation for Medical Expenses (BZV) in 2012.
The Court of First Instance indicated that it was sufficiently proven that it involved fraud and money laundering. According to the Court, the defendant Jacinta Constancia, in the time that she was Minister of Health, Environment and Nature, went along with her husband’s plan to ensure that a great deal of money could be earned from the purchase of surgical face masks. According to the Court, it was also Constancia who introduced this project at BZV. The husband of Constancia then involved a friend in the plan. A one-man company with a Chinese name was registered at the Chamber of Commerce and both a quotation and an invoice were issued for the supply of surgical masks. The quotation and invoice were based on a disproportionately large amount, but were apparently accepted by BZV – apparently through Constancia. The usual procedures were skipped and the amount of money was paid out. That amount of money was then largely channeled by the husband of Constancia and his friend. The face masks have never been delivered.
Unconditional prison sentence and disqualification from the office
The Court considers that only an unconditional prison sentence qualifies as an appropriate punishment. As far as the level of the prison sentence is concerned, a link has been sought with the sentence assessment that normally takes place in fraud cases. Furthermore, the Court of First Instance took account of the penalty-increasing and punitive conditions of each defendant. On that basis, the Court of First Instance, having regard to the length of the investigation, arrived at the imposition of 20 months’ imprisonment in the case of Constancia and her husband, and 8 months imprisonment for the husband’s friend.
In the case of Constancia, the Court also imposes an additional penalty. She loses the right to occupy the office of minister for the duration of 5 years. The reason for this is that with her actions she has seriously violated the trust placed in her as a minister and has thereby discredited her office, while she has not repented of her actions.