Court to deal with ‘Emerald’ case Tuesday and Wednesday

PHILIPSBURG–Seven owners of one-man businesses in St. Maarten will appear in the Court of First Instance on Tuesday and Wednesday for their alleged involvement in the so-called “Emerald case” involving the evasion of income- and turnover tax, the Prosecutor’s Office said Sunday.

  The suspicions are the result of an investigation by the anti-corruption unit TBO into alleged fraud and corruption committed at the Port of St. Maarten. The suspects include Member of Parliament Chanel Brownbill and a police officer.

  According to the Prosecutor’s Office, the suspects involved in this case had failed to report income of approximately US $8 million paid to their companies for activities on behalf of the port, in particular between 2012 and 2016.

  “These payments were not reported by the companies to the tax authorities. That is punishable by law,” the Prosecutor’s Office stated.

  According to calculations by the tax authorities, St. Maarten has reportedly lost more than NAf. 6 million in tax revenue, the Prosecutor’s Office claims. A large part of the invoices paid by the Port concerned cleaning activities.

  “In addition, the investigation showed strong indications that the activities, for which the companies were paid by the Port, were never performed at all, but that false invoices were used. The businesses that have been summoned are not being prosecuted for this. But this fraudulent context means that this is not about simple tax evasion,” the Prosecutor’s Office said Sunday.

  The Emerald investigation started in April 2016 following reports in The Daily Herald and questions posed in Parliament about contracts signed between the then new owners of Checkmate Security and Port St. Maarten.

  The Emerald investigation also include main suspects Chief Executive Officer of the Port Authority Mark Mingo and security company owner O’Neal Arrindell. The cases against these two suspects are still being prepared by the TBO, the Prosecutor’s Office said. “In that context, witnesses have now been heard by the examining magistrate,” it was added.

Source: The Daily Herald