Published On: Thu, Feb 9th, 2023

Corruption scandals tarnish Aruban politics

ORANJESTAD — Politics and corruption seem to be like Siamese twins, not only in St. Maarten but certainly also in Aruba where, according to a report by Caribisch Netwerk, currently six politicians are involved in corruption scandals. The cherry on this cake is the news that the Supreme Court has confirmed the verdict against former AVP-Minister Paul Croes.

Croes has now been irrevocably sentenced to 3 years of imprisonment and an 8-year ban on working as a politician. The corruption-charges against Croes are about fiddling with work permits.

On the day the Supreme Court confirmed the verdict against Croes, the police conducted several house searches related to investigations against former Minister Romero. He is suspected of corruption with service contracts while he was Aruba’s Minister of Transport, Communication and Agriculture. Romero was a member of the governing party MEP of Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes.

The new investigation gives credibility to a statement Paul Croes made about the investigation against him: “What I did is what all politicians on Aruba do.”

In the Romero-investigation the police conducted four house searches. Several Aruban politicians are currently involved in court cases for corruption.

This quarter former Minister Benny Sevinger will hear the court ruling against him in the Avestruz corruption case. Sevinger presumably fiddled with government land when he was a member of the cabinet of Prime Minister Mike Eman. Civil servants and entrepreneurs are also suspected of bribery in this case.

During the most recent elections Sevinger won once more a seat in parliament while he was behind bars. Sevinger has mirrored the argument Paul Croes used; what he did for entrepreneurs is normal in Aruban politics.

Former Minister Otmar Oduber is entangled in the Flamingo corruption-investigation. Oduber was Minister of Tourism in two AVP-cabinets between 2009 and 2016. After a dispute with the AVP he established his own party (POR). In the 2017 election he won two seats in parliament.

A couple of years later Oduber abruptly left politics, citing health reasons. Shortly afterwards the news broke that investigators suspect him of corruption with government land, money laundering and leading a criminal organization.

Two weeks ago, Oduber gave a press conference where he announced that the prosecutor’s office has dropped several charges and that the remaining ones are about embezzlement and bribery.

A few days after this press conference, Oduber’s fellow party member Alan Howell heard prosecutors demand a 24 months of imprisonment against him for embezzling almost 200,000 florins (a bit more than $111,700) of party subsidies. The court will read its verdict towards the end of March.

Justice charged Howell in March 2021. It was reason for Prime Minister Evelyn Wever-Croes to drop her first cabinet – a coalition of MEP, POR and RED.

Aruba’s former Minister Plenipotentiary Guillfred Besaril is another politician who ended up on the wrong side of the law. In June 2022 Besaril suddenly announced his departure, citing family circumstances. The Aruba House was at that moment already busy with an investigation into Besaril’s spending habit for private parties and travel.

Besaril allegedly also rented a house at the expense of the Aruba House while the house that was available for him stood empty.

In January Prime Minister Wever-Croes told the parliament that a complaint has been filed against Besaril and that the prosecutor’s office is still busy with the investigation.


Photo caption: Photo linked from Caribisch Netwerk.