PHILIPSBURG – When current Member of Parliament Theo Heyliger (United Democrats) was minister of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure he accepted $300,000 in bribes from the Dutch consultant Ronald Maasdam, who is currently detained for this matter in the Netherlands. This appears from the summons against Maasdam, who was scheduled to appear in court in Philipsburg on Monday, November 6.
While Heyliger has not been charged with bribery in the Maasdam case it is not the first blemish on his political career. On November 28, Heyliger has been summoned to court as a suspect in the Catfish-case. In that case he is charged with an attempt to bribe former MP Romain Laville. Heyliger’s name also surfaced in the 2010 election fraud case where his party paid several police officers for their vote. The United Democrats leader was not charged in this case either, but during the court hearings it became clear that an uncle of his, who paid the police officers, acted on his instructions.
The public prosecutor charges in the latest summons that Maasdam bribed Heyliger between August 1 and September 9, 2011. He paid the bribe into two different companies – $40,000 to Advanced Consultech SA and $260,000 to Caribbean Advice and Consultancy Ltd. – for the purchase of a piece of real estate.
According to the public prosecutor the objective of these transactions was to obtain government contracts for dredging company Devcon TCI Ltd and construction companies Volker Construction International BV and Volker Stevin Caribbean NV. The latter company ended up building the causeway bridge over the Simpson Bay Lagoon.
From the summons it appears that Maasdam’s bribery-activities go back to August 23, 2006 and that they continued until August of this year. It also appears that Heyliger was not the only recipient of bribes. The prosecution charges that Maasdam bribed – between August 23, 2006 and August 20, 2018, “one or more civil servants” with money from construction and dredging companies.
The summons identifies Ballast Nedam International BV, Devcon TCI Ltd., Windward Roads BV, Volker Construction International BV and Volker Stevin Caribbean NV as the sources of these bribes. Maasdam functioned as the middleman. Last February the anti corruption task force also arrested Windward Roads director Jan Hendrik Boekaar as a suspect but he was later released.
The prosecutor’s office notes that the crimes took place not only in St. Maarten and the former Netherlands Antilles but also in places like the Netherlands, Anguilla, the Isle of Man, Panama and St. Kitts and Nevis.
Maasdam is furthermore charged with money laundering over a period that stretches from 1997 to 2018. The summons mentions that there is an amount of at least 8,987,532 guilders ($5,020,967) involved.
The fourth charge has to do with taxes. According to the public prosecutor Maasdam did not file returns for income, turnover and income taxes between August 23, 2006 and 2018.
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