PHILIPSBURG–Member of Parliament (MP) and leader of United St. Maarten Party (US Party) Frans Richardson was arrested by the Anti-Corruption Taskforce TBO on Monday morning on suspicion of accepting bribes, committing official coercion and abusing his position.
While confirming that an MP was arrested, TBO spokesperson Roderick Gouverneur said he could not officially confirm the identity of the arrested MP. When asked whether this arrest is part of the on-going “Larimar” investigation, he said no more information could be given at this time.
The Larimar investigation is an investigation into the bribery of civil servants, politicians and persons in the construction sector. Suspended MP Theo Heyliger is being held as a suspect in the Larimar investigation.
Richardson was arrested by the TBO last year in connection with the “Emerald” case, an investigation into fraud and corruption at the Port of St. Maarten, where he was suspected of accepting bribes and tax fraud. He was also suspected of participating in a criminal organisation aimed at recruiting votes.
In May this year, Richardson was in court to answer charges of bribery, in accepting a US $180,000 bribe on July 30, 2012, and one of $190,000 on December 20, 2012. He was also to be charged with laundering these amounts and with tax evasion in failing to file income tax between January 2013 and December 2014. The case was postponed indefinitely by the examining judge, instead referring the case to a new judge of instruction.
“The Board of the United St. Maarten Party at this point will hold any comments until it has details about the detention of its party leader MP Frans Richardson until the matter is discussed with his legal team. At present our thoughts and prayers are with our leader’s family,” said US Party on Monday afternoon.