PHILIPSBURG–Port St. Maarten Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mark Mingo (46) was released from pre-trial detention on Wednesday. Mingo had been arrested at Princess Juliana International Airport SXM on June 7 in connection with the “Emerald” investigation launched in April 2016.
According to Prosecutor’s Office spokesman Norman Serphos on Wednesday, “His detention is no longer necessary for the investigation. He remains a suspect and the investigation in this case continues.”
The Emerald investigation revealed that some companies in St. Maarten have allegedly sent fictitious or greatly increased bills to the Port. These invoices were then paid, but the works on these invoices were probably never, or only a small part, executed. The involvement of suspects Mingo, O’neal Arrindell and others is currently under investigation.
The Port and its subsidiaries are not suspects in this investigation, according to Serphos. Presumably this form of fraud has been going on for years. The first estimate is that in this way the Port and Country St. Maarten were cheated of at least US $7 million.
“From that money, for example, a large number of social housing could have been built. For half of that amount the country could have refurbished all school buildings this year, or it could have been used for the construction of the new hospital,” Serphos stated.
Mingo’s attorney Hans de Jong issued a short statement on behalf of his client after his release from detention. “The Prosecutor’s Office has issued a press release concerning alleged fraud. Mr. Mingo strongly denies the correctness thereof.
“No criminal offence whatsoever has been committed. He has full confidence in the outcome of the pending investigation. It is regretful that the Prosecutor draws conclusions before the investigations are completed and issues irrelevant insinuations and suggestive remarks,” stated De Jong on Wednesday.
The Kingdom Detectives Cooperation Team RST anti-corruption unit “Team Bestrijding Ondermijning” (TBO) investigations are part of an intensive approach to cross-border corruption and fraud. Corruption and money-laundering pose a serious threat to the security and economies of the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom, according to the Prosecutor’s Office. TBO, the National Detectives of Curaçao and St. Maarten as well as the Prosecutor’s Office are partners in the fight against these subversive crimes.