GREAT BAY – Hans de Jong, the attorney of port Director Mark Mingo is also the attorney of the harbor group of companies. This appears from a decision by the Common Court of Justice that allows De Jong to act as Mingo’s attorney in the Emerald-case.
Article 2.8 of the decision describes the objections of Solicitor-General Ton van der Schans against admitting de Jong as Mingo’s attorney. The objection is based on the circumstance “that De Jong also acts as the attorney of the port, that the suspect is subject to restrictions and that the investigation against the suspect also leads to the port and to persons associated with the port.”
The solicitor-general’s remark seems at odds with repeated statements from the prosecutor’s office that the port is not a suspect in the Emerald-investigation.
When Mingo was released from custody last week, the prosecutor’s office said in a press release that the port had paid inflated invoices for work that was probably never done and that this fraud had been going on for years. The prosecutor’s office said that the damage done through this fraudulent scheme amounts to $7 million.
Attorney De Jong immediately contested the statements of the prosecutor’s office, saying that Mingo “strongly denies” their correctness. “No criminal offense whatsoever has been committed. He has full confidence in the outcome of the pending investigation. It is regretful that the public prosecutor draws conclusions before the investigations are completed and issues irrelevant insinuations and suggestive remarks,” de Jong said in a statement.
The decision by the Common Court furthermore reveals that the investigation against Mingo began in November 2016.
On November 28, 2016 investigators raided the offices of Checkmate Security on Illidge Road and at the port. They arrested the company’s Director, O’Neal A., but Mingo’s name was not mentioned at the time. O’Neal A. was released in December 18, but he remains a suspect in the Emerald-investigation.
The prosecutor’s office stated last year that the Emerald-investigation began in April 2016, after reports in the media about the contract Checkmate signed with the port authority. During the investigation suspicions arose about tax fraud, forgery and money laundering.
O’Neal A. was also arrested in August of last year in connection with a shooting in the parking garage of the Westin Hotel in Dawn Beach on May 28, 2016. The Mahi Mahi-investigation into the shooting focuses on money laundering. O’Neal A. remains a suspect in both the Mahi Mahi and the Emerald investigation.
Mingo’s local attorney Chris Rutte asked the court to allow Hans de Jong – who is based in Rotterdam in the Netherlands – as his client’s attorney “because he has been involved in the investigation against the suspect since November 2016 and because he is familiar with the case.”
Furthermore, Rutte said that Mingo has built up a bond of trust with de Jong. “He is a well-known resident of St. Maarten and he does not wish to be counseled by a criminal attorney whom he knows already in other contexts.
The court only allows attorneys to act on behalf of a client in court that have been registered at the court. However, the court can allow a foreign attorney to work here if he works together with a local registered attorney.
De Jong works for the office of Sjöcrona-Stigt in Rotterdam. He deals mainly with economic and fiscal criminal cases, among them Customs-fraud. He is a specialist in criminal liabilities for corporate managers.
Mingo was sent on a leave of absence by the supervisory board of the harbor group of companies after his release last week. The board will evaluate Mingo’s position upon his return, though it did not say how long the leave of absence will last.