Remaining ‘Aquamarine’ suspects accept settlement with prosecutors

Remaining ‘Aquamarine’ suspects  accept settlement with prosecutors

PHILIPSBURG--The remaining two suspects in the “Aquamarine II” criminal case both signed out-of-court settlements with the Prosecutor’s Office on Wednesday, February 22, for their role in the case.

Public servant A.C. accepted an out-of-court settlement of NAf. 10,000 offered by the Prosecutor’s Office, concerning suspicion of participating in a contract or supplying services to the management or supervision of a project that he, as a highly ranked public servant, had been assigned to at the time of the contract.

Construction company Taliesin, owned by suspect C.C., accepted an out-of-court settlement of NAf. 20,000 offered by the Prosecutor’s Office, concerning suspicion of paying multiple bribes to a Member of Parliament (MP) to secure contracts.

“Aquamarine II” focused on the suspicion that former MP Frans Richardson had requested substantial sums of money from the construction company after an insurance company paid for repairs of storm damage to the building in which the government-owned agency Bureau Telecommunication and Post (BTP) is located. This concerned repair of damage caused by Hurricane Irma.

On November 15, 2021, Richardson was convicted by the Court of First Instance in St. Maarten for bribery, and for participating in a contract or supplying services while he, as an MP, was charged with the ultimate supervision of the contract.

The Court of First Instance sentenced Richardson to 12 months and payment of criminal proceeds of NAf. 666,000 and NAf. 192,690. He was also banned from running for public office for three years.

The Prosecutor’s Office offered the out-of-court settlements to the two suspects for a number of reasons. “The facts took place quite a long time ago and neither suspect was ever convicted of any crime,” the Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement on Wednesday.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, both suspects cooperated during the investigation. “The owner of the construction company provided complete information and transparency, while incriminating himself and the company with his statements. Up until today, the company faced high financial losses as a result.”

By paying the agreed amounts, the suspects avoid any further criminal prosecution and their cases will be closed, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

However, they will be heard as witnesses in connection with the appeal filed by Richardson against his conviction in the “Aquamarine” investigation.

The investigation was started by the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, under leadership of the Anti-Corruption Taskforce – Central Team of the Attorney General’s Office of Curaçao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba.

The Central Team specialises in tackling corruption and undermining financial-economic crime. The taskforce also investigates fraud, forgery and money laundering.

The Daily Herald

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