MPs to dissect Asset Recovery Team today

PHILIPSBURG–The installation of an Asset Recovery Team to seize assets acquired via criminal means will be the topic of discussion between Members of Parliament (MPs) and Justice Minister Rafael Boasman today, Monday. The urgent public plenary session of Parliament will be held at Parliament House starting at 2:00pm.

The meeting to discuss the installation was requested by all parties in Parliament and was signed on their behalf by MPs Franklin Meyers (United People’s party), Frans Richardson (United St. Maarten Party), Rodolphe Samuel (National Alliance) and Perry Geerlings (Democratic Party). This is the first time all four parties – representing both the coalition and opposition – have called for a meeting.

The MPs, in their request for the meeting, had called for Boasman and/or Chief Prosecutor Ton Maan to appear to answer questions about the team launched earlier this month to net money-launderers and tackle other illegal activities resulting in financial gains for criminals. The team is tasked with the responsibility 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 SZV officials, and the Prosecutor’s Office.

The penal code will not be applied in seizures by the team. Authorities will use laws outside of 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 does not have anything to do with the assets seized.

A similar team has 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.

The parliamentary session will be broadcast live on St. Maarten Cable TV Channel 120, Pearl Radio FM 98.1, and

Source: The Daily Herald