GREAT BAY – The investigation into vote buying before the 2014 elections by MP Silvio Matser and twenty others started when investigators got wind of something amiss in the so-called Maas-investigation into three bank robberies that took place in 2014. One of the suspects in at least one of these robberies was Widnor Francis B., who is now also a suspect in the vote buying case.
The link between the bank robbery-investigation and the vote buying case came to light in court yesterday, when the attorney for Widnor B., Sharia Bommel, asked the court to provide her with all phone taps – in writing and in an audio version. This is when prosecutor Martin van Nes said that part of the taps is part of the Maas-investigation into the bank robberies – an investigation that is still ongoing.
Judge Dirk Gruijters nevertheless granted the attorney’s request to receive the written report of the phone taps and the full audio on CD. The court also granted Bommel and fellow-attorney Marije Vaders request to hear several witnesses.
The link with the bank robberies seems interesting, because two of them took place before the elections on August 29, 2014. The prosecution did not provide any further details about the Maas-investigation.
On June 10, 2014 the Scotiabank in Simpson Bay was robbed by three armed men who emptied the tellers’ stalls of their cash reserves before taking off in a small gray van.
On July 8, the FirstCaribbean Bank branch in Cole Bay became the victim of an armed robbery, also by three men.
The third robbery took place after the elections, on December 30 at the RBC Bank on Cannegieter Street.
So far, the case is still under investigation and has not been brought to court yet.
Widnor Francis B, now 30 years of age, is a small time drug dealer. On February 10, the Court in First Instance sentenced him for the possession of 90 grams of marijuana and 100 grams of cocaine to 18 months of imprisonment, with 12 months suspended and 3 years of probation.
Before the probation time ended, B. was in court again, this time charged with firearm possession. The court sentenced him to 2 years of imprisonment on February 1, 2012.
The prosecution charges that the now 49-year-old Matser and his co-defendants took part in a criminal organization. Apart from Matser, the members of this organization are according to the summons Edeson L.F. (35), Widnor F.B. (30), Rogelio G. K. (48), R.F.G. and Franklin L.A.(46).
The summons the prosecution presented in court on September 21 shows that prison director Edward Rohan gave MP Matser in August 2014, when he was a candidate for the United People’s party, a list of eligible voters in the Pointe Blanche prison. Of the 68 eligible voters, 48 voted for the UP in 2014; the other votes went to the National Alliance (12), the US party and the DP (3 each) and one to Jacinto Mocks’ Social Reform Party.
Three members of Matser’s criminal organization were inmates at the Pointe Blanche prison at the time of the 2014 elections: Franklin Luciano A., Widnor Francis B. and Edeson Edvis Leroy F. (35). The prosecution has charged them with recruiting voters for the United People’s party and/or for Matser in the prison.
Matser paid $100 for each vote. The money was deposited on the Prison Cantine Money account in the name of at least eleven inmates. Matser allegedly promised another voter help with obtaining a taxi license and another voter help with a beach license or getting a job as a driver.