MP Van Raak’s claim debunked
St. Maarten News – Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak’s claim in a column in The Post Online that an investigation into the connection between politics and the gambling industry in St. Maarten is underway has no basis in reality.
“The Public Prosecutor’s Office knows nothing of an investigation into the gambling industry in St. Maarten,” the spokesman for the prosecutor’s office Gino Bernadina said in answer to questions from this newspaper. “There is also no cooperation with the United States. The only thing we have is a request for judicial assistance from Italy, but that was already known.”
Van Raak claims in his column that the Netherlands is investing €22.1 million and that it is assigning “more than 50 people to this job.”
Furthermore, Van Raak wrote that the investigation is underway “in collaboration with the United States and Italy.”
According to the Dutch parliamentarian, the United States is looking at money laundering, while Italy is supposedly interested in the involvement of the mafia.
Van Raak made similar claims when he visited St. Maarten on January 10 of this year. The prosecutor’s office said then, when this newspaper checked the claim, that there was no investigation underway.
Van Raak furthermore claims that Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk referred to “the ongoing investigation” when he answered questions posed by Van Raak and VVD-MP André Bosman.
But Plasterk’s answers do not contain that reference at all. This is what Plasterk did write in his answers: “The gambling world and tackling possible abuse within it is in the first place a local matter. The Public Prosecutor’s Offices in Curacao and St. Maarten are the competent instances for the direction of the investigating of possible abuse – and where this is opportune prosecution – under the political responsibility of the local ministers of justice.”
Furthermore, Plasterk wrote: “The countries within the Kingdom act together against links between the under and upper world. Undermining criminality affects the kingdom as a whole. With St. Maarten, agreements have been made in a protocol on May 24, 2015 about tackling border-crossing, undermining criminality. The Netherlands invests €22.1 million in this approach that is directed by the Attorney-General of Curacao, St. Maarten and the BES-islands.”
Source: Today SXM No investigation underway into St. Maarten’s gambling industry