Mingo, Arrindell charged with US $11 million fraud | THE DAILY HERALD

~ Richardson on trial for bribery ~

PHILIPSBURG–The Prosecutor’s Office on Monday charged Port St. Maarten Group of Companies (PSGC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo and Checkmate Security director O’Neal Arrindell with defrauding the Port out of the total amount of US $11 million. United St. Maarten Party (US Party) leader Frans Richardson was charged with accepting bribes to the amount of $370,000, the Prosecutor said during the first preliminary hearing of these three suspects in the “Emerald” criminal investigation.

Investigations have led to the suspicion that Mingo (47) and Arrindell (36), together with other suspects, had allegedly robbed the harbour of at least $8 million over a number of years by signing approximately 300 invoices submitted by seven one-man construction companies, including Rising Star Construction, Country Construction, KG Construction, Jazz General Operational and Contracting Company, Select Trucking Services, Emile Construction and Caviar Construction.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, these invoices for services rendered to the Port for trucking, clean-up and other work, which were submitted from April 2012 to July 1, 2017, were forged and falsified.

In the Prosecutor’s opinion, these paid invoices concerned activities that were in reality not or only partly carried out for PSGC/the former St. Maarten Harbour Group of Companies N.V. (SMHGC), St. Maarten Holding N.V. or St. Maarten Cruise Facilities N.V.
Mingo and Arrindell are also charged with defrauding the Group of Companies in cooperation with Devcon TCI Ltd. and others out of approximately $3 million between July 2012 and June 2014. According to the Prosecutor’s Office, this concerns forged documents pertaining to “mobilisation cost” and “general conditions” charged to the Harbour in connection with dredging work by Devcon, while these in fact served as payments to Arrindell and/or one or more of his companies.

Richardson, who turned 50 on Sunday, will have to face charges of bribery in accepting a $180,000 bribe on July 30, 2012, and one of $190,000 on December 20, 2012. He will also be charged with laundering these amounts and with tax evasion in failing to file income tax between January 2013 and December 2014.

Arrindell was charged with bribing Richardson and will also be facing charges of illegal firearm possession. On November 28, 2016, he was found in possession of a Glock pistol with ammunition.

Arrindell is also accused of tax crimes. He allegedly failed to file income tax between January 2012 and January 2018. He also failed to file turnover tax on behalf of his company Sun Than Scooter Rental, and profit and turnover tax on behalf of Supreme Transportation Corp. N.V., Suntan Villa N.V., Sun Corp N.V. and/or Caribbean Sun Corp N.V., the Prosecutor said.

‘Dragnet’ indictment
The three defendants did not speak during this first day of hearings, but Arrindell’s and Richardson’s lawyers called on the Court for a large number of witnesses to be heard. The Prosecutor also called for the hearing of witnesses.
Attorney Niels van der Laan primarily called on the Court to declare the Prosecutor’s case against Arrindell inadmissible, but this request was denied.

The lawyer called for more time to prepare his client’s case. “The case file includes four moving boxes with 30 files and approximately 3,000 documents. The file is entirely in Dutch and my client is not able to speak or read this language at all,” he said.
In speaking of a “dragnet” indictment, he was critical of the charges, which include 300 invoices. “These concern work carried out by small companies that made use of workers who were recruited from under a tree to drive a truck or to clean out a trench. Did they pay taxes up to the last cent? The defence must unravel the tangle of evidence that these invoices are indeed false,” the lawyer said.

Attorney Sjamira Roseburg also was critical of Richardson’s case file. “At this moment the file is incomplete, and conclusions are drawn based on incorrect and/or incomplete information,” she said before filing no fewer than 12 requests to hear witnesses. These included, besides co-defendants Arrindell and Mingo, also Richardson’s business partner Anthony Carty, Bank statements, several banking officials and an accountant, who are to shed light on the financial position of Richardson’s company. His lawyer also deemed it important to hear tax officials pertaining to the alleged tax crimes.
Roseburg also wants to question a detective who stated that the money her client had received from Arrindell came from Devcon and, indirectly, from the Port.

Tunnel vision
Finally, Roseburg also requested that her client’s case be handled separately from those against his co-defendants.

“It is true that my client, as a parliamentarian, has no problem whatsoever in communicating his views on the matter to your Court. However, client does want his case to be looked at on its own and not, as the Prosecutor’s Office tries to do, in conjunction with the other co-defendants,” she said.
She stated that it seems that the investigating team has operated with “tunnel vision” in this case, while discarding alternative scenarios.

The Judge did not decide on the request to separate Richardson’s case from the two others, as he will no longer be presiding over this case as he will be returning to the Netherlands. A different Judge may decide on the request when the trial resumes with a second procedural hearing on October 31.

The Judge granted most requests to hear witnesses, including Mingo and Carty, a Scotiabank manager, a Tax Office Chief Inspector, a detective, and three witnesses who are to shed light on the Devcon contract.

Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/77510-mingo-arrindell-charged-with-us-11-million-fraud