PHILIPSBURG–The Court of First Instance found Member of Parliament Frans Richardson, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the St. Maarten Port Authority Mark Mingo and businessman O’Neal Arrindell guilty as charged in the so-called “Emerald” investigation into large-scale fraud in the Port of St. Maarten.
MP Richardson was sentenced to 36 months in prison for accepting US $370,000 as a reward for political support for a dredging project and for money laundering and tax fraud. In addition, he was relieved of his passive electoral rights for a period of five years.
Mingo was sentenced to a prison sentence of 46 months for forgery of documents and scamming the Port of St. Maarten for around 10 million dollars. He was also forbidden to work as a port director or at any government-owned company for a period of six years, the Court ruled om Wednesday afternoon.
Mingo’s co-perpetrator in the scam, St. Maarten businessman O’Neal Arrindell, who was also found guilty of firearm possession, tax fraud and of bribing MP Richardson, was sentenced to 66 months in prison.
“The Court of First Instance considers the proven facts to be very harmful to the confidence that the people of St. Maarten must be able to place in people in important positions, such as politicians and administrators of government companies. The actions of the suspects, on whom others depend and who are being looked up to, therefore, also have an undermining influence on society,” the Court said in a brief press release on Tuesday afternoon.
The Judge turned down the Prosecutor’s request to immediate incarcerate Richardson, Mingo and Arrindell, because their pre-trial detention had been suspended quite some time ago. They have two weeks to file for appeal.
In October 2018, Mingo and Arrindell were charged with defrauding the Port out of a total of $10 million. During the hearings in this case, which took place in December 2019, the Prosecutor called for seven years’ imprisonment against Arrindell.
Mingo would have to spend four years, if it were up to the Prosecution, and should be banned from being a board member of any government-owned company in St. Maarten for five years.
Richardson, who was found guilty of accepting bribes to the amount of $370,000, would have to spend three years in prison, if it were up to the Prosecutor’s Office. The Prosecutor also announced dispossession claims against all three suspects.
Bron: : Daily Herald