Procedural hearing in Silvio Matser’s tax case

Procedural hearing in  Silvio Matser’s tax case

Silvio Matser


PHILIPSBURG--A procedural hearing took place in the Court of Appeals on Tuesday in the tax case of businessman and former Member of Parliament (MP) Silvio Matser.

  One year ago, the Court of First Instance sentenced Matser to 22 months for tax crimes and converted a conditional sentence of 18 months for a previous case 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 verdict on February 10, 2022, 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.

  In this case Matser is accused of having committed tax fraud in collaboration with three companies. One of these companies is Island Wide. Other companies involved in the scheme are State Millennium and Versatile Consulting and Management BV.

  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.

  Matser was not present for Tuesday’s procedural hearing, but attorney Safira Ibrahim was present in the courtroom. The proceedings were also witnessed by her colleague Nathan Stegerhoek via video conferencing.

  The defence lawyers requested the hearing of two witnesses and printouts of no fewer than 885 WhatsApp conversations and data from Matser’s IPhone, which was retrieved in French St. Martin by members of the Anti-Corruption Task Force TBO on April 10, 2019.

  After a brief recess, the Appeals Court granted the hearing of one witness. The Prosecutor’s Office was asked to provide printouts of WhatsApp messages to the defence, but only of those which contain incriminating or exonerating information.

  The request to read out the data on Matser’s iPhone was rejected because the Court did not see the need for this.

The Daily Herald

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