Reaction to PWC integrity report: Dutch want criminal investigation (into the government of St. Maarten)

POSTED: 09/30/14 10:55 PM

THE HAGUE – Justice has to initiate a large-scale criminal investigation into the “utterly corrupt” government of Sint Maarten. “The Second Chamber demands this, now that the controversial politician Theo Heyliger is grabbing the absolute power on the island,” the Telegraaf reported yesterday.

A majority of VVD, Socialist Party, CDA and PVV wants action according to the newspaper, after it appears from an investigation by consultant PricewaterhouseCoopers that the complete government apparatus is rife with cronyism. If justice in Sint Maarten does not manage to get a grip on the island government, Minister Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) has to command a criminal investigation. That would be a far-reaching action towards the autonomous country St. Maarten.

The report shows that there is corruption on all levels in the government and the civil service, the Telegraaf reported. What is even more worrisome to Dutch politicians is that “the controversial Theo Heyliger” grabbed absolute power on the island last week.

A judge recently said that he wanted the leader of the United People’s party (UP) in his courtroom because everything indicated that he was the big fish in an investigation into election fraud.

However, justice on the island did not investigate him, the newspaper notes, adding that Heyliger just missed winning an absolute majority in the elections in August. “Now that former minister (sic) Cornelius de Weever suddenly has defected to his camp, Heyliger’s party has absolute power.”

According to VVD-MP André Bosman “Heyliger simply paid De Weever.” Bosman read in the integrity report that there is especially a lot of corruption in the port, “where Heyliger does business.”

“Everything is going wrong there,” Bosman says about the island. He wants the Netherlands to send all possible support to St. Maarten for a criminal investigation.

SP-MP Ronald van Raak: “Mafiosi seem to grab power over there and the Netherlands is responsible for good governance. We take that responsibility and we eliminate the criminal money and politicians or it is the end of the Kingdom.”

CDA-MP Madeleine van Toorenburg wants that the minister takes action as soon as possible. “This has been going wrong for ages. I do not see Minister Plasterk enough.”

Freedom Party (PVV) MP Sietse Fritsma supports the call for action by justice, but that solution is not his first choice. “It is a corrupt banana republic. We have to get rid of these islands as soon as possible.”

International agreements make this currently impossible, but Fritsma wants to change this, according to the Telegraaf.

Plasterk is waiting with a reaction to the integrity-report and Heyliger’s grab for power until the island itself has reacted. According to the minister, the report shows “that the Kingdom Council of Ministers was right to be concerned.”

The Labor Party (PvdA) agrees that a criminal investigation is justified but it has not made up its mind yet whether Plasterk has to give an instruction. PvdA-MP Roelof van Laar is “seriously concerned” about St. Maarten and hopes that at least the current formation and the recent elections will be scrutinized by justice.


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