GREAT BAY – The Court in First Instance sentenced the former head of the National Security Service VDSM, James Adolphus Junior Richardson, yesterday to 2 years of imprisonment for embezzling more than 230,000 guilders from the VDSM and for money laundering. The public prosecutor demanded 3 years at the trial on August 9. The court also sentenced Richardson to repayment of 231,887.28 guilders. Richardson, 42, was not present at the sentencing hearing.
The sentence was lower than the prosecution’s demand because the court found not all embezzlement charges proven. The summons charges Richardson with the embezzlement of 727,145 guilders between February 25, 29011 and May 29, 2013, but the court found insufficient evidence for the embezzlement of some of the money.
Richardson paid 80,000 guilders to a security company and a contractor to secure his private home. He paid 324,000 guilders to unnamed sources for information about a burglary at his house, 13,500 guilders to sources for information about a threat against his son, 9,000 guilders to a source in need and 68,785 guilders for hotel accommodation and car rentals linked to the threat against his son.
The court rules that is it ‘plausible’ that all these expenditures were related to Richardson’s work.
That is not the case with other movements of VDSM-funds, like the deposit of close to 172,000 guilders in his private account, more than 15,500 guilders for his private phone, 27,500 guilders for the use of the debit and credit card of the VDSM, 11,000 guilders for private travel and 6,000 guilders for expenditures Richardson cannot remember.
The court understood the financial mess up to a point. “The VDSM had to be built up after 10-10-10. It was a small organization without a solid infrastructure and without a functioning system of administration and accountability. The Audit Chamber according to the law financial supervision charged with the supervision of VDSM, was not ready for it.”
The court noted that Richardson was the only one who took financial decisions, without ever consulting with others. “Considering the many responsibilities of the defendant we understand up to a point that the administration that also belonged to his responsibilities remained imperfect.”
That was an understatement: further down in the ruling the court notes that there was no administration at all.
The court also considered the oath of confidentiality that bound the VDSM-director. “That could hinder the process of giving account. We can imagine that providing information about certain expenditures touches on the interest of national security.”
The court found that Richardson had taken large amounts out of the VDSM account during a long period of time. In the same period he made cash deposits in his private accounts at the WIB and the RBC banks; he also paid off his credit card and his mortgage with money from the VDSM.
The court concluded that Richardson embezzled 231,887.28 guilders. It also found proof for money laundering because he “obtained the money and had it at his disposal while he knew that it stemmed from his own crime. Richardson also transferred the money by spending it, thus meeting the standards for money laundering.
“The defendant spent large amounts of money on luxury goods for himself and his family and he maintained a lifestyle that was too high for him. He has not shown any insight into the nature and the seriousness of the crimes. He had to stop with the embezzlement because the crimes came to light. Nothing shows that the defendant would have stopped doing this on his own. It is furthermore bad that the defendant, in spite of his promises, has not started repaying