Published On: Thu, Jun 24th, 2021

St. Maarten has money

St. Maarten has money. Lots of money. Yet we are beggars in our own country. Just to give you an example, according to the latest annual report the MOT (Meldpunt Ongebruikelijke Transacties, or Financial Intelligence Unit) published on its website there were 9,357 unusual transactions in 2015, representing a value of more than 3.1 billion guilders; 717 transactions worth 36.2 million were labeled as suspicious and reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for investigation.

In 2020, the number of suspicious transactions skyrocketed to 1,831 – an increase of 155.4 percent. The amount of money these transactions represent has not been published yet, but if their value resembles that of 2015, their worth could be around 92.4 million guilders ($51.6 million).

So the Financial Intelligence Unit had the manpower to only investigate 7.7% of the most unusual transactions, which were subsequently reported as suspicious to the Public Prosecutor’s Office for further handling. So far as we know, no case except the Standard Trust case ever went to court.

Outside the MOT transactions, there is other evidence that billions of dollars pass through St. Maarten on an annual basis. Individual cash streams may be in the millions, but it all adds up to billions at the bottom line.

Everyone is already aware of the missed tax revenues from casinos, lotteries and vacation rentals, just to name a few examples.

Another simple example that is overlooked is the fuel supply business on St. Maarten. Government also misses out on a lot of tax revenue in this sector.

Can you imagine how much revenue the Government of Sint Maarten could generate in taxes (turnover taxes and profit taxes) if the Tax Office could legitimately, efficiently and effectively claim and collect its rightful share of this billion-dollar business and deposit it into the country’s coffers on behalf of the people of St. Maarten?

Yet, here we are as a people anno 2021, in a post-Irma and (almost) post-pandemic period like beggars holding our hands up to the Netherlands begging for liquidity support.

Tell me what is wrong with that picture?