MP Matser’s tax fraud appeal postponed

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Sint Maarten Courthouse

GREAT BAY – The Common Court of Justice did not set a date for the appeal of MP Silvio Matser against his conviction for tax fraud. During a pro forma hearing yesterday morning, the court allowed all the witnesses Matser’s attorney Cor Merx wants to hear. It also went along with the request to postpone the appeals trial for a longer period of time to an unspecified future date.

In January, the Court in First Instance sentenced the United People’s party MP to 24 months of imprisonment, with 18 months suspended and 3 years of probation. Matser also has to do 240 hours of community service. The court sentenced his now defunct construction company Energizer to a fine of 4.5 million guilders.

The court found the 48-year old Matser guilty of ordering a member of his staff repeatedly to file incorrect wage tax and social premium-statements to the tax office and of repeatedly and intentionally not filing statements for the turnover tax of Energizer. This way, the construction company evaded up to 4 million guilders ($2.25 million) in taxes and premiums, the January court ruling states.

Energizer filed incorrect wage tax and premium statements to the tax inspectorate for almost four years – between January 1, 2006 and October 9, 2010. Matser did not file the statements personally, but he told staff members what to do.

Between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2007, the company failed to submit statements about the turnover tax it owed for the projects it was working on. Energizer paid more than 4.8 million guilders in salaries in 2007 alone. The annual financial report, produced by a company called MGM of Matser’s brother Gary mentions gross salaries over that year totaling a bit more than 6 million guilders.

Among the witnesses the defense wants to hear is tax inspector Maria Bas. She could clarify, according to the defense, whether Matser’s company Energizer had obtained an exemption from paying turnover taxes.

Another witness the defense wishes to hear is a tax inspector by the name of Sendar. According to Merx, Sendar’s brother in law had attempted to get a piece of the work energizer was doing in Porto Cupecoy. When Matser turned  him down, Sendar’s sister let it be known that her brother would deal with Energizer.

During the first interrogation after his arrest, Sendar told Matser: “Don’t worry Silvio, this case will be handled via the fiscal route.” These circumstances trigger the question about the admissibility of the prosecution in the Matser-case, Merx states in his request to the court to hear this particular witness.

The other witnesses the defense wants to hear are all former Energizer-employees: Pascale Groeneveld (administrator and project manager), Cloyd Marlin (project manager), Edsel Page and Shirley brooks (administrative assistant).

Solicitor-general Taco Stein objected to hearing the witnesses from the tax inspectorate. “There is no evidence that any promise was made,” he said.

The court nevertheless admitted all witnesses the defense wants to hear. “The court sees reason to get to know more about the reason for the investigation,” the judges said.

Photo Today Newspaper/ Milton Pieters

Source Today Newspaper