~ Court case set to start February 7 ~
PHILIPSBURG–The Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with the anti-corruption taskforce TBO has charged Member of Parliament (MP) Chanel Brownbill with tax evasion. The court case is scheduled to take place on February 7, according to Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Norman Serphos.
Anti-corruption taskforce TBO officers searched Brownbill’s home in March 2017 and evidence was found of a construction company he owns that allegedly has never paid profit or turnover tax to country St. Maarten.
Both parties participated in a special session of the Joint Court in December where the prosecutor requested permission from the court to bring charges against the Member of Parliament. The judge granted this request, hence the court case being called in February.
The Prosecutor’s Office needed permission from the Joint Court to bring criminal charges against a sitting MP. The same was done for unrelated cases involving former MP Patrick Illidge and current MP Silvio Matser.
Brownbill was arrested and held for several days before being released on March 18, 2017, with word that he remained a suspect in the Emerald case.
Serphos did not want to go into more details about the case, but he did say, “Brownbill will have to answer to the court about not filling taxes for this company. We will not release the name of the company at this time, but the Member of Parliament is the registered owner.”
Brownbill is a candidate for the February 26 parliamentary elections with the new party United Democrats headed by fellow MP Theodore Heyliger.
The Emerald investigation started in April 2016 following reports in The Daily Herald and questions asked in Parliament about a contract signed between the then new owners of Checkmate Security and Port St. Maarten. During this investigation suspicions arose about tax fraud, forgery and money-laundering.
The investigation is part of a joint intensified fight against international fraud and corruption. Corruption and money-laundering threaten the security and economy of the countries in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom.
The special anti-corruption taskforce TBO of the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, together with the National Detectives Agencies (Landsrecherches) of Curaçao and St. Maarten and the Prosecutor’s Office have joined forces to combat corruption. The case is being investigated by TBO. A special prosecutor from TBO will go to court to represent the country.
Source: The Daily Herald https://www.thedailyherald.sx/islands/72554-mp-brownbill-headed-to-court-over-tax-evasion