PHILIPSBURG–Member of Parliament (MP) Frans Richardson was arrested by the anti-corruption team TBO at his home Wednesday morning. Two searches were conducted at homes and one in a company in St. Maarten. One of the homes was seized, according to the Prosecutor.
The arrest of Richardson, the leader of the United St. Maarten Party, is the result of the “Emerald” case, an investigation into fraud and corruption at Port St. Maarten. Richardson is suspected of accepting bribes and tax fraud.
Seven suspects in that case were still in court last week. In two of those cases the judge will give the verdict on February 22. The other cases will be discussed further in March. MP Chanel Brownbill is one of the seven suspects who were at court last week.
The Prosecutor also said in a statement issued to the media on Wednesday that Richardson is also suspected of participating in a criminal organisation aimed at recruiting votes. This investigation is run by the National Detective Agency of St. Maarten (Landsrecherche Sint Maarten) under the direction of the Prosecutor’s Office.
Searches were conducted at an address in the Sucker Garden district owned by Richardson on February 13 and at addresses on the French side on February 14. Data carriers and administration were seized during the searches.
The second arrest on Wednesday concerns Windward Roads director J.H.B. (1964) and emerged from the “Larimar” case, an investigation into the bribery of civil servants, (political) authorities and persons in the construction sector, among other things. Previous actions, including a search at Windward Roads on January 24, led to this arrest.
In addition to these arrests, the TBO has also searched another company in the same investigation on Wednesday.
The TBO paid special attention after the destruction caused by Hurricane Irma and regarding the reconstruction of St. Maarten. TBO is alert to signs of corruption and fraud in both the public sector and the construction sector.
The Prosecutor’s Office of St. Maarten will be extra-alert during the period up to the election on signs of buying and selling votes. Persons who have information about this are asked to contact the National Detective Agency – anonymously if necessary. This is possible via the telephone number: + 1-721-522-5810
Bron: Daily Herald