Allegations Wiels against UTS seem farfetched

POSTED: 05/8/13 12:42 PM
Radcomm Corporation holds UTS-license in St. Maarten 
The late Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels.

The late Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels.

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The allegations of money laundering and illegal number-sales by assassinated Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels against telecom provider UTS seem farfetched, this newspaper discovered through a simple investigation into the St. Maarten-based company Wiels mentioned as allegedly squirreling away money from these activities.

Radcomm Incorporated NV, the company Wiels referred to last Friday in relation to what he labeled as the illegal sales of lottery tickets via mobile phones on the UTS network, turns out to be the public limited company that operates under the trade name UTS – United Telecommunication Services – Chippie – Onenet. The shareholder of Radcomm is UTS NV in Curacao – and the shareholders of that company are the governments of Curacao and St. Maarten.

In a letter he sent to the Public Prosecutor’s Office and to the Bureau Telecommunication and Post in Curacao with copies to the outgoing Ministers of Finance Jardim, Economic Development Martina and Justice Navarro, Wiels demanded an investigation into the “possible participation of the government-owned company UTS in illegal number sales via sms (text messages).”

Wiels claimed in statements made on the radio and to the Antilliaans Dagblad that UTS is “actively taking part in the illegal sales by making its network available for a numbers-seller that does not pay turnover tax or profit tax and that does not use the official receipt books from Wega di Number Kòrsou.”

Wiels also mentioned possible money laundering and possible participating in a criminal organization by UTS.

Wiels-who was assassinated two days after he made the allegations public, referred with his remarks to UTS’ mobile platform Chippie and Robby’s Lottery, a company of Robbie dos Santos who is the main suspect in the Bientu (wind) investigation into money laundering and tax evasion that is shortly going to court.

Wiels said that UTS uses prepaid call credit from its customers “to magically turn it into cash that it parks on a bank account in St. Maarten.”

That company was, according to Wiels, Radcom Incorporated NV. Research by this newspaper at the Chamber of Commerce revealed that the company’s name is actually Radcomm Corporation NV, a public limited company established on August 23, 1988 in Sint Maarten.

Doing business as UTS, and based at the address Codville Webster Street 2 in Philipsburg – which houses the offices of UTS – the excerpt from the Chamber of Commerce lists Paul de Geus as chief executive director and statutory director and Glen Carty as managing clerk (procuratiehouder). Both have held their posts since April 4, 2007. Remarkably the excerpt shows as the private residence for De Geus, who lives in Curacao, the address at the Codville Webster Street where the UTS-office is located.

UTS bought Radcomm in 2002 from Max Nicolson, because the company had a license for mobile telecommunication and at the time UTS was unable to obtain a license of its own.

What will remain of the accusations Wiels leveled at UTS remains to be seen and the question is how politically motivated his charges really are. Wiels did not see eye to eye with MFK-leader Gerrit Schotte, who is close to Robbie dos Santos and he also bore a grudge against UTS CEO Paul de Geus.

This newspaper understands that UTS has a contract with Robby’s Lottery for the sale of lottery tickets via text messaging. Customers buy top up cards at local vendors. The money for these top ups is already in the coffers of UTS, because resellers pay the company for the cards it stocks.

UTS charges Robby’s Lottery a service fee for the use of its premium text messaging service (SMS to Win). Once a month the telecom provider pays Robby’s Lottery the amount customers have spent on SMS-lottery tickets, minus its service fee. From this money, the lottery-company has to pay its winners.

UTS pays turnover tax to the tax offices in St. Maarten and Curacao on the prepaid top up cards it sells. It is unclear whether Robby’s Lottery is paying its taxes on the monthly payment it receives from UTS – but that is of no concern to UTS.

This newspaper understands that telecommunications legislation is heavily outdated. Wiels apparently found UTS in violation of a law that dates back to 1909; the question that is up to now unresolved – and under scrutiny by all parties – is who is actually selling the lottery tickets: UTS (by allowing Chippie-users to buy them via their cell phones) or Robbie’s Lottery (that has the tickets and also pays the winners).

UTS spokeswoman Fayna Haseth said last week that the company is working on a reaction to the allegations. That reaction will most likely not come before Wiels’ burial.

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