Published On: Sat, Mar 9th, 2019

Anti-corruption task force investigates all suspicious financial transactions

TBO Anti Corruption Taskforce

PHILIPSBURG — The Public Prosecutor’s Office has serious concerns about the financial investigative capacity of the police force. Answering questions from stmaartennews.com, the prosecutor’s office said that the police force has only one financial investigator. “Due to the lack of financial investigative capacity the expectation-level of investigations has been lowered.”

This does however not mean that the police force or the anti-corruption task force TBO (Team Bestrijding Ondermijning) are doing nothing at all. In 2017 the financial intelligence unit (MOT – Meldpunt Ongebruikelijke Transacties) reported 358 suspicious transactions with a value of 60.8 million guilders ($33.4 million) to the prosecutor’s office. In 2018, the number of suspicious transactions skyrocketed to 1,345 with a value of 233 million guilders ($130.1 million).

While these are the numbers released by the MOT, the prosecutor’s office says now that it received 1,506 reports about suspicious transactions in 2018. Most of these reports went to the anti-corruption task force. “All reports to the TBO have been subjected to investigation,” the prosecutor’s office said. “The reports to our office have resulted in several investigations, while several other investigations are in the preparatory stages.”

The prosecutor’s office points out that it handles data in a different way than the MOT. “The MOT registers numbers of transactions. The prosecutor’s office registers people and investigations. There are usually several transactions involved in one investigation.”

There is a distinct difference between unusual and suspicious transactions, the prosecutor’s office furthermore said. The indicators for suspicious transactions are mentioned in article 10 of the national ordinance reporting unusual transactions. “A suspicious transaction is information that results in a reasonable suspicion that a certain individual has committed money laundering or an underlying crime, or has been involved in the financing of terrorism.”

The prosecutor’s office declined to say how many suspicious transactions are currently the subject of investigation and how many transactions have the potential to become the subject of such an investigation in the future.

The prosecutor’s office did not specify either which investigations have resulted from reports about suspicious transactions. Last year, the prosecutor’s office took action against the harbor group of companies and a number of contractors who got paid for work they never did. The most recent example of a financial investigation is obviously the case against politician Theo Heyliger who stands accused of accepting $300,000 in bribes from Ronald Maasdam.