All parties asked for meeting about Asset Recovery Team

PHILIPSBURG–All four political parties in Parliament have jointly requested an urgent meeting of Parliament about the recently-established Asset Recovery Team, and have asked for Justice Minister Rafael Boasman and/or Chief Prosecutor Ton Maan to appear to answer questions.

This is the first time all four parties – coalition and opposition – have banded together to call a meeting.

The team was launched earlier this month to net money-launderers and tackle other illegal activities resulting in financial gains for criminals. The team’s responsibility is to seize assets, such as homes and other buildings, vehicles, boats and anything of value from persons the Prosecutor’s Office deems suspects. The team comprises Police, Coast Guard, tax officials, Social and Health Insurance officials, and the Prosecutor’s Office.

The request for the urgent session was submitted to Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams on Monday. The letter was signed by United St. Maarten Party leader Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson, United People’s (UP) party MP Franklin Meyers, Democratic Party (DP) MP Perry Geerlings and National Alliance (NA) MP Rodolphe Samuel.

The MPs stated they learned about the team and need to be better informed about this development.

Meyers told The Daily Herald that Parliament must be properly informed about the far-reaching power of this team and the impact it will have on the community.

The penal code will not be applied in seizures by the team. Authorities will use laws outside the Penal Code. Suspects will have to show proof of ownership before being allowed to get back what was seized. The Prosecutor’s Office therefore would not need the court system to make someone a suspect, and the court also would not have anything to do with the assets seized.

Similar teams have been operating in Curaçao for some time now. St. Maarten’s Council of Ministers approved the project four months ago after it was requested by Minister of Finance Richard Gibson, Sr.

Source: The Daily Herald