WILLEMSTAD–The Court in First Instance of Curaçao, on Wednesday, convicted former Minister of Health and current MFK parliamentarian Jacinta Constancia, her husband Anbertus Scoop and his then friend Gianni Benschop of committing fraud six years ago. The minister’s policy advisor at the time Annaliza Mathilda was acquitted of all charges as proposed by the prosecution.
The trial was related to an investigation called “Dubnium” into the botched purchase of 40,000 surgical masks for NAf. 365,853.49 by the – no longer existent – Bureau Sickness Costs Insurance BZV in 2012.
The judge found it sufficiently proven that Constancia went along with her husband’s plan to ensure that a great deal of money could be earned from the purchase of the mouth caps to protect the population from prevalent airborne diseases. According to the court it was also she who introduced this project at BZV.
Scoop then involved Benschop in the scheme. A one-man company with a Chinese name was registered at the Chamber of Commerce and both a quotation and invoice were issued for the supply of surgical masks.
These had allegedly been based on a disproportionately large amount, but were accepted by BZV – apparently through Constancia. The usual procedures had been skipped and the money was paid out.
The funds had subsequently been largely channelled by her husband and his friend; however, the facemasks were never delivered.
The court considered only an unconditional prison sentence as appropriate punishment. As far as the term is concerned, a link was sought with other fraud cases.
Furthermore, the judge took account penalty increasing and mitigating circumstances of each suspect. On that basis the ruling was 20 months’ imprisonment for both Constancia and Scoop plus eight months for Benschop, who the prosecution said had come clean. All three will get a two-month deduction for the probe’s duration surpassing the usual maximum.
In the politician’s case the court also imposed an additional penalty. She lost the right to occupy the function of minister for five years for seriously violating the trust placed in her as a minister and discredited the office while not repenting her actions.
Constancia intends to appeal the verdict, which would automatically postpone its execution.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/79602-former-minister-gets-20-months-for-fraud