Theo ordered to report to prison tomorrow to serve his sentence

Theo ordered to report to prison  tomorrow to serve his sentence

PHILIPSBURG--Former high-ranking politician Theo Heyliger (53) has been ordered to report to the Point Blanche prison tomorrow, Monday, to begin serving his five-year sentence for accepting bribes and money-laundering.

Heyliger’s wife, current Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten, confirmed to The Daily Herald that her husband was served at 10:00am Friday. The notice gave him three days to surrender at the country’s only prison.

Heyliger-Marten has criticised the timing of the Prosecutor’s Office summons, which was delivered only four hours after she was re-elected into Parliament after the all-night count of Thursday’s vote. This meant she had to balance spending time with her family this weekend while, at the same, helping in what she described as “gruelling” negotiations to form a new governing coalition.

When asked for a comment on her husband’s summons, Heyliger-Marten said: “Thinking of [Theo – Ed.] not coming back, not being around for at least two-plus years. Those tears are not crocodile tears.”

In May 2020, the Court of First Instance found Heyliger and four other co-defendants guilty in the “Larimar” case, which concerned the payment of bribes in connection with several major construction projects, among them the causeway bridge, and laundering large amounts of money.

The court considered it proven that Heyliger had taken a combined total of US $3.36 million in bribes from construction company Windward Roads BV, industrial supplier Central Concrete Mix, dredging company Devcon TCI Ltd., and Dutch construction company Volker Construction International BV. This spanned Heyliger’s time as Commissioner, Member of Parliament (MP), and Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure VROMI.

Last October, the Prosecutor’s Office and Heyliger withdrew their appeals of the lower court verdict, making the 60-month sentence irrevocable. As part of a deal with the Prosecutor’s Office, Heyliger agreed to pay $5 million to the Crime Prevention Fund and waive his rights to rental income of several immovable properties.

The Prosecutor’s Office had originally looked to seize approximately $17.5 million in a dispossession claim against the former MP and VROMI Minister. The claim included not only the criminal proceeds in the “Larimar” investigation into large-scale corruption in St. Maarten, but also money “earned” by other crimes of which Heyliger has not been convicted, prosecutors said in 2021.

Heyliger’s acceptance of the court’s verdict was a surprise, as he had consistently denied the allegations during his trial almost four years ago.

The Daily Herald

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