PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – On 1 September 2017, The Public Prosecutor’s Office submitted a request with the Joint Court of Justice (the Court) for an inquiry into the Sint Maarten Harbour Group (the Port): a so-called civil inquiry (civiele enquête).
The Public Prosecutor’s Office deemed it necessary – for reasons of public interest – to make the Port subject to an in-depth investigation as there were well-grounded reasons to doubt the corporate policy pursued throughout the last decade.
The importance of such investigation was emphasized by the results of the criminal investigations codenamed Emerald and Larimar. These investigations revealed – among other things – that the Port has been subject to serious malpractices for an extended period of time. Invoice fraud resulted in a financial loss of more than ten million American dollars. Systematic corruption occurred, for example around the bidding process in relation to tenders for infrastructure projects such as the Causeway Bridge.
These events underline the importance for the community to have transparency on the state of affairs within this public company. More insight may prevent similar malpractices in the future.
In the Emerald case, the former CEO of the Port was sentenced to 46 months imprisonment in early 2020. Shortly after that, an influential politician was given a prison sentence of 5 years for his part in the Larimar investigation.
The Court rejected the request of the Public Prosecutor’s Office to institute an inquiry. The Public Prosecutor’s Office does not agree with this and believes that there are legal grounds to request the Supreme Court to overturn that decision.
Earlier today, Thursday the 4th of March 2021, an application for cassation was filed with the Supreme Court in The Hague on behalf of the Public Prosecutor’s Office.