PHILIPSBURG–The owner of a construction company was sentenced by the Court of First Instance on Wednesday to payment of a NAf. 15,000 fine, NAf. 5,000 of which was suspended, for facilitating illegal employment.
During the February 10 hearing in this case, the Prosecutor’s Office called for a $40,000 fine, $20,000 of which to be suspended, on three years’ probation, for Durbijai Sewnaraine (35), the owner of Durbi Construction BV, a subcontractor for principal Amazon Construction during the reconstruction of Sonesta Maho Beach Resort and Casino.
Sewnaraine denied the allegations before the judge, stating that these workers were employed by Amazon, and that he only provided payroll support to this company. However, searches at his company, his home and his bookkeeper Brison Tax and Accounting which took place September 11, 2018, provided contracts, Social and Health Insurances SZV documents and copies of passports and identification documents of some 90 workers who were not known to the Immigration and Border Protection Service (IBP).
Sonesta Maho Beach Resort was also searched. Investigators spoke with Resort of the World financial controller, who explained that two companies were responsible for building activities on behalf of Resort of the World: Amazon Construction NV and Amazon Construction Limited.
Amazon Construction NV was working on the reconstruction of the resort. One of the companies it hired was Durbi Construction, which had supplied approximately 50 to 60 employees, the financial controller had stated.
He said that Amazon Construction had hired Durbi Construction for construction work at the resort and had outsourced “everything” to Durbi, including personnel. He said Amazon had not been recruiting and employing staff.
The prosecutor considered illegal employment between June 1, 2015, and September 11, 2018 proven.
Sewnaraine’s lawyer Cor Merx disagreed and called for his client’s full acquittal or dismissal of all prosecution. According to Merx, the list with 90 persons was incorrect and there was no evidence of illegal employment, as Durbi did not have any relationship with Amazon in the field of labour, except for the payment of workers against a fee of 3.5 per cent.
The court agreed with the prosecutor and found it proven that Durbi had employed at least eight persons who had been living and working illegally in St. Maarten. It dismissed Durbi’s claims that it had been working as a staffing agency. “After all, the suspect arranged the employment contracts, SZV registrations and the payment of salaries with his company Durbi Construction,” the judge stated.
According to the Court, Durbi’s director also knew that six of the employees mentioned in the indictment were residing in St. Maarten illegally.
“As a result, the suspect has disadvantaged other companies that do work according to the rules. In addition, the employment of illegal immigrants often includes the exploitation of these persons. Someone who works illegally in St. Maarten is not insured, does not pay taxes and is at a disadvantage in defending his or her rights. The suspect facilitated this,” the judge stated in the verdict.
In determining the punishment, the court considered that Sewnaraine, who is a first offender, currently has less work and must take care of his wife and three children.
Bron: Daily Herald