GREAT BAY / WILLEMSTAD – Attorney-General Guus Schram announced a few days before his departure – his term ends at the end of August – an even stricter approach of corruption and fraud in the higher echelons of the society, Jean Mentens reports on Caribisch Netwerk. This has progressed well under his tenure, Schram says.
“Whether it is Schotte or Tromp, we take on the case and we attempt to make something of it. If we take a case to court it has been so thoroughly prepared that we are confident that it will result in a conviction.”
“In Curacao, St. Maarten and Bonaire politicians, Members of Parliament, former ministers, a prime minister, people at the immigration department and bank directors have been arrested and successfully prosecuted and convicted,” Schram points out.
“There is a higher preparedness to do something about these issues than there was 3.5 years ago. I see now for instance heads of departments at my desk reporting a problem. The matters at the Coast Guard and the organization that regulates admission are good examples.”
Schram furthermore refers to the success of the test with Asset Recovery Teams in Curacao and St. Maarten that focus on seizing fraudulently obtained money or assets.
“The Asset Recovery Team was initially set up for one year,” Schram says. “We had to show that there was a business model: what we invest in it had to be earned back more than twice. We managed to do that well. At the request of the ministers of justice the project had now been extended.”
Schram says that his successor Roger Bos, who starts working on Friday, will opt to propose to the ministers to double the Asset Recovery Teams. “In that situation the team is much larger and less vulnerable. We’re heading towards a structural approach that way.”
Schram has produced a policy paper that has to guide the work of the prosecutor’s office and the judicial chain for the next five years. The document puts an emphasis on increased integration of the public with the work of justice, better information gathering and getting a grip on the borders.
Schram: “We want to know what comes in and what goes out in terms of people, drugs, weapons and money. Right now we have for a large part no idea. From Trinidad – that’s now far away from Curacao – jihadis have left for Syria. Some of them have traveled without any doubt via Curacao or St. Maarten. We want to know more about all that.”
If you want to create a system of maintaining law and order that is able to handle criminality,” Schram says, “You have to choose where you want to invest. You have to do that in the field of information and you have to get a grip on the borders.”