Silvio Matser entering the Courthouse. (File photo)
PHILIPSBURG--Businessman and former Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser was convicted by the Court of First Instance on Thursday to 22 months’ imprisonment for tax crimes and had a conditional sentence of eighteen months for a previous case converted into prison time.
The conversion was based on Matser being found guilty of money-laundering and tax-related crimes during his probation in the previous case.
Matser and his now-defunct company Energizer NV were irrevocably convicted of tax evasion by the High Court of the Netherlands on January 7, 2020.
The Supreme Court sentenced Matser to 21 months and two weeks in prison, 18 of which were suspended, on three years’ probation. Energizer was ordered to pay a fine of NAf. 3,490,300.
The Court of First Instance handed down its sentence on Thursday, February 10, in the “Draco” investigation into Matser and his co-suspects Lionel Jermaine Joseph, Georgiana Feraru and Dylcia Natasha Lake.
Draco stemmed from the “Emerald” investigation into fraud and the use of false invoices in Port St. Maarten in 2016.
The Court sentenced co-suspect Feraru, who hails from Romania, to six months suspended, on three years’ probation.
Lake received a conditional sentence of five months, with three years’ probation and 216 hours of community service.
Joseph was sentenced to four months suspended, on three years’ probation, and 216 hours of community service.
Matser was accused of having committed tax fraud in collaboration with three companies. One of these companies is Island Wide. Joseph, owner of that company, was suspected of having provided Matser with fake invoices. Joseph was also charged with laundering money, cars and real estate. Other companies involved in the scheme were State Millennium and Versatile Consulting and Management BV.
Versatile’s former managing director Lake was under suspicion of having committed tax fraud in 2017, 2018 and 2019, due to alleged fraudulent activities in the calculation of company turnover tax (TOT).
Matser and Feraru were both suspected of money-laundering in buying five to 10 real- estate properties in Romania.
During the hearing of the Draco case in October 2021, the prosecutor called for four years’ imprisonment for Matser. His three co-suspects were all facing 18 months.
The court imposed lesser sentences because it did not find all crimes mentioned in the indictments proven. The judge did find it proven that Versatile had failed to report about NAf. 170,000 in turnover tax and State Millennium approximately NAf. 230,000. Island Wide was acquitted of this charge, as the tax department had never handed out a tax-return form.
The court did find it proven that Matser, as the real man in power in these companies, had withheld some NAf. 400,000 in turnover tax and NAf. 335,000 in income tax from the tax authorities.
The court could not identify other sources of illegal assets, such as the alleged purchases of real-estate properties in Romania, four properties in St. Maarten, and a BMW X6.
On the other hand, the court found it proven that Matser was guilty of laundering two vehicles – a 2016 Audi A5 and a 2017 Audi Q7 – with a combined value of more than NAf. 200,000.