Motion calls for corruption probe St. Maarten, Curaçao

Minister Ronald Plasterk of the Interior and Kingdom Relations

THE HAGUE–The Dutch Government has no objections to a motion of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament calling for an investigation of the flow of money between criminal organisations and the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten.

In fact, Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk suggested expanding the motion of Members of Parliament (MPs) Ronald van Raak of the Socialist Party (SP) and André Bosman of the liberal democratic VVD party to include drug smuggling and trafficking in women in the investigation.

Van Raak and Bosman requested the Dutch Government to facilitate an investigation into the (illegal) flow of money between the underworld and upperworld in Curaçao and St. Maarten, between these countries and with countries outside the Kingdom. Specific attention was asked for the influence and actions of the (illegal) gambling industry on the islands.

The motion mentioned “increasing indications of criminal money in the governments of Curaçao and St. Maarten.” According to Van Raak and Bosman, “these practices were disadvantageous for the international position and reputation of all countries in the Kingdom.” The motion stated that all countries in the Kingdom were responsible for good governance in the different countries.

Plasterk saw the motion as support for the policy of the Dutch Government which has been to strengthen the justice system in the Dutch Caribbean. He suggested to even broaden the scope of the motion by not only focusing on the gambling industry but to also include drug smuggling and trafficking in women.

“It concerns all parts where the underworld touches the upperworld,” said Plasterk, who lauded the motivation in the motion that the responsibility for good governance was considered a Kingdom affair. “This is where it is supposed to be. I consider this an encouragement to continue what we are doing,” he said.

Plasterk assured the Second Chamber that he was willing to financially invest in strengthening the justice system on the islands, including the Coast Guard, Customs, Police and the Prosecutor’s Office. He said that the additional budget still had to be found and as such he could not give guarantees.

Van Raak, who read the motion and had requested a short follow-up meeting after last week’s debate with Plasterk concerning the level of governance in the Dutch Caribbean countries, said that his objective was to close the faucet of bad money and to make sure that it was eliminated from politics.

Bosman said that various reports had shown that the link between the under and upper- world on the islands was “big.” He said it was even more worrisome that St. Maarten was showing lack of initiative to effectively tackle integrity issues. “The Integrity Chamber should be something to take with two hands, not only in St. Maarten, but also in Curaçao and Aruba,” he said.

Bosman referred to Friday’s Court ruling in the case of Member of Parliament of St. Maarten Cornelius de Weever versus his person in which he was summoned to only make statements that were based on facts. Bosman said that this was why he wanted visible facts. “Follow the money is the most simple system,” he said about the motivation for submitting Wednesday’s motion.

“The flow of money make clear where the interests lie. The gambling industry, money laundering and trafficking in women to name a few. This is the ultimate test of good governance and integrity,” said Bosman.

Van Raak also presented a second motion which called on the Dutch Government to seek permission of the Curaçao Government to arrange a closed door hearing of the Second Chamber with informants about the reported major theft of data from Curaçao Security Agency VDC in 2011. This motion was co-signed by MPs Gert-Jan Segers of the ChristianUnion and Peter Oskam of the Christian Democratic Party CDA.

“There are informants who would like to speak with us, but that is only possible if Curaçao gives permission,” said Van Raak. He said that he would ask the Second Chamber’s Permanent Committee for Kingdom Relations to file this request if the Dutch Government wasn’t willing to do so. He said that he was set on continuing the investigation of this theft.

Minister Plasterk advised against this second motion. He said the VDC was an autonomous affair of the Country Curaçao. The minister displayed little enthusiasm to request Willemstad’s cooperation to have informants meet with the Dutch Parliament. He said that if Parliament wanted this, it would have to make the request itself.

Plasterk said that it would be considered “very strange to say the least” if the situation had been the other way around whereby another country asked him whether he was willing to send personnel or former personnel of the Dutch Intelligence Agency AIVD to that other country for a hearing.

The Second Chamber will vote on both motions during a plenary session next Tuesday.

Source The Daily Herald