PHILIPSBURG--Parliament will sit in an urgent public meeting 10:00am, today, Thursday, January 6, to discuss a letter sent by Attorney General Ton Maan. In this letter, the attorney general informs that Member of Parliament (MP) Claudius Buncamper, who was sentenced by the Court of First Instance for criminal offenses on December 23, 2021, should be suspended.
In his letter which was sent to Minister of Justice Anna Richardson and Chairperson of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten on December 30, 2021, the attorney general informs that Buncamper should be suspended pursuant Article 50, Sub 2B, of the Constitution of St. Maarten.
This article states that an MP is suspended by law if he is being detained pending trial in connection with a criminal offence, or if he is given a custodial sentence by a court for committing a criminal offence.
Almost two weeks ago, Buncamper was sentenced by the court to an unconditional prison sentence of 32 months and to a seven-year ban on holding public office for his role in the “Ruby” case. This investigation focused on corruption during Buncamper’s tenure as Head of Infrastructure at the Ministry of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI and the misuse of public funds for personal purposes.
He was found guilty of requesting and accepting bribes of over NAf. 600,000 over a period of 2,5 years in relation to the tendering procedure for management contracts of the St. Maarten landfill. The bribes included lucrative contracts for his wife and son. He was also convicted for forging invoices related to the sewage plant in order for VROMI to pay for personal expenses for his family and the Lions Club.
He was acquitted for the abuse of power related to the relocation of a business premises operated by his family members on a parcel in Kim Sha Beach.
The sentence was slightly lower than requested by the Prosecutor’s Office because of undue delay in the investigation. However, this did not apply to the ban on holding public office as the court ruled that due to the severity of this case, a five-year ban was considered adequate.
The Ruby investigation was started in July 2018 by the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, under the authority of the Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO of the Attorney-General’s Office of Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.
On February 12, 2021, the Court of Appeals ordered the prosecution of Buncamper. This order was required as the Constitution of St. Maarten and the National Ordinance on Individuals with Political Authority prescribe that the Prosecutor’s Office can only prosecute political office holders after an order to that effect has been issued by the Court of Appeals.
Today’s public meeting will be held in a virtual setting. Due to measures taken to mitigate the coronavirus, Parliament is only allowing persons with an appointment to enter the Parliament building. The parliamentary session will be carried live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 115, via SXM GOV Radio FM 107.9, via Pearl Radio FM 98.1, and on the Internet at www.sxmparliament.org, and www.pearlfmradio.sx.