PHILIPSBURG--With a focus on collecting more criminal funds, the Prosecutor’s Office is investigating and uncovering more cases of money-laundering and financial crime. Approximately US $359,513.89 was taken from criminals or criminal-related activities from 2018 to 2021.
Fighting crime and preventing further crimes in the community depend not only on putting (suspected) criminals behind bars, the Prosecutor’s Office stated in a press release: “It is also essential to cut off the ill-acquired funds that drive criminality.”
The Prosecutor’s Office is putting more emphasis on this front. “Looking back over the past four years, a significant amount of money has been confiscated in various cases, ranging from as little as NAf. 10 to US $232,900.”
The total amount of $359,513.89 covers the amount also collected in Netherlands Antilles guilders and euros converted at the prevailing currency rates.
Separately, the total amounts per currency for the four years covered are $344,278.02, NAf . 11,780.90 ($6,546.94), and 8,145.16 euros ($8,688.93). These amounts represent only cash, meaning currency bills, and do not include confiscation in Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO cases.
The Prosecutor’s Office, along with its partners, registered the collection of approximately $52,399 in 2018. NAf. 71 was also collected by law enforcement.
The following year saw the biggest confiscated amount of criminal funds. The largest single confiscation was $232,900. That amount was found in a house search in Mary’s Fancy in September 2019 and was a significant bust in a drug-related case codenamed “Snoek”. Unfortunately, at the time of the bust and thereafter, an erroneous amount of some $32,900 was circulated in the press, lessening the magnitude of the bust.
Overall, for 2019, law enforcement bagged the biggest amount in the four-year period: $286,893.07; NAf. 11,474.90; and 7,310.16 euros.
The first year of the global pandemic, 2020, saw the lowest numbers in confiscated funds. These low numbers could possibly be attributed to the limited movement of people and illicit items due to pandemic protocols, which included prolonged lockdowns.
Criminals were relieved by law enforcement of $1,373; NAf. 35; and five euros in 2020.
The second year of pandemic (2021) saw an increase in the amounts of criminal funds collected: $3,612.95; NAf. 200 and 830 euros.
The confiscation of funds in criminal cases continues as more instances are investigated and/or uncovered, the Prosecutor’s Office said. “It is important to note that although the numbers given in confiscated funds are very large, there is no immediate access to the funds for the benefit the community. This is due to the process of law.
“That means confiscated funds must be held until the case to which they are related has been completed and the verdict is irrevocable. That verdict also needs to address what is to be done with the criminal funds.”
The Prosecutor’s Office said it remains committed to cutting off criminal activities and seizing assets and funds derived from these illegal activities. “The ultimate goal is for the funds to benefit the St. Maarten community in positive ways.”