Silvio Matser entering the Courthouse on Tuesday morning.
PHILIPSBURG--Businessman and former Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser on Tuesday declined to answer questions about allegations that he committed tax fraud and money-laundering in using a complicated jumble of (offshore) companies in St. Maarten, Nevis, Panama and Belize through which large sums of money were allegedly hidden from the view of the tax authorities.
“No matter what you do, you’re attacked and hunted down by the Prosecutor’s Office,” Matser said during the second day of hearings in the “Draco” investigation. He did not have much faith in the justice system, he told the court on Tuesday.
The prosecutor said he considered the charges against the companies involved in the scheme legally and convincingly proven.
The Prosecutor’s Office is holding it against Matser, the factual “manager” in this tax fraud, that he has continued to commit crimes, despite his irrevocable conviction by the High Court of the Netherlands in January 2020 of tax evasion in having filed incorrect tax-return forms for the payment of wage taxes, and failure to pay turnover tax (TOT) on behalf of his now defunct company Energizer NV.
The “Draco” investigation into Matser and his alleged partners in crime L.J.J., G.F. and D.N.L. stemmed from the “Emerald” investigation into fraud and the use of false invoices in Port St. Maarten in 2016.
Through this scheme, company Island Wide, owned by J., defrauded Port St. Maarten of US $540,000 by using false invoices, according to the prosecution. Between 2011 and 2017, the company also allegedly failed to file TOT and profit tax for the amount of $1.7 million.
According to the prosecutor, the financial administration of suspect L.’s company Versatile Consulting and Management BV, is total “chaos”. Versatile engaged a trust office to do its business administration, “but that does not relieve L. of her obligations,” the prosecutor stated. He said a trust office employs accountants and bookkeepers, not tax advisors.
The Prosecution considered fraudulent activities in the calculation of TOT proven and calculated a loss of more than NAf. 1 million for the tax department for the years 2017 through 2019.
Company State Millennium also committed fraud and disadvantaged St. Maarten for an amount of more than NAf. 1 million.
L. said that she could not sleep since June 18, 2019, when this case started. However, she did sleep Monday night, “because I finally have the opportunity to get the truth out.”
L. was arrested in a case she had “no idea of,” but as a result her bank accounts were closed. As a result, her company could no longer operate and all projects with construction companies were halted. “Things were so bad that I had to consult a psychologist,” she said.
J. said the investigation had destroyed his life. “I cannot move forward. I have no income and friends are helping me out,” he told the court.
The hearings will continue today, Wednesday, with the prosecutor formulating his demands against the four suspects in this case and the companies involved. The lawyers will plead on their clients’ behalf.