Published On: Wed, Feb 7th, 2018

Court postpones Brownbill’s tax fraud trial

MP Chanel Brownbill arrives at Court House - 20180207 MP

PHILIPSBURG – Police officer Akeem A. and MP Chanel Brownbill were expected to be the highlights of the second day of the trials against seven suspects in the so-called emerald investigation on Wednesday. But Akeem Emile A., a brother of Checkmate Security director O’Neal A. did not show up and Brownbill’s case was eventually postponed until March 29.

The dump fires also had their influence on what happened in court, because attorney Brenda Brooks went down with a serious asthma-attack, making it impossible for her to represent her clients Sindo Renigio Alexandre D. and Karim Gemayel L. Earlier in the morning, Brooks told the court that she was not authorized to plead on behalf of her client Akeem A. in his absence.

In that case, Brooks argued that the summons was void, but the court ruled that it was valid and handled the case in Akeem A.’s absence. The defendant billed the harbor between 2013 and 2016 for more than $1 million with his company Emile Construction. He filed returns for turnover tax but he put the turnover on these returns on zero. A. also failed to file returns for income taxes for the income from the construction company. He only filed for the income from his job as a police officer.

The public prosecutor said that the fiscal disadvantage for the tax inspectorate was in this case 850,000 guilders. “The total fiscal disadvantage caused by all seven defendants is almost 7 million guilders,” the prosecutor said.

He demanded 15 months of imprisonment and a conditional fine of 250,000 guilders against A. and asked the court to impose 2 years of probation. The court will pronounce its verdict on February 22.

Sindo D.’s case was postponed until March 27 because his attorney Brooks was not available. His company Jazz General invoiced the harbor between 2013 and 2016 for $1,697,106 and, like the other defendants, he failed to file tax returns.

Unlike MP Silvio Matser who has opted not to appear in court when summoned, his fellow-faction member of the United St. Maarten party Chanel Brownbill did show up to defend hmself against charges of tax fraud.

Brownbill’s attorney Safira Ibrahim asked the court to declare the prosecution inadmissible and later asked to hear three witnesses and to postpone the trial.

Ibrahim said that her client had in the meantime filed tax returns and that he has already received a correction from the tax inspectorate.

But the public prosecutor said that his was all too little too late, because Brownbill should have done all this before he became aware that he could be prosecuted for his actions. The court declared the prosecution admissible.

Brownbill’s company Country Construction invoiced the harbor between 2009 and 2016 for $1,261,078 and he did not file returns for income and turnover taxes.

Ibrahim asked the court on Wednesday afternoon to hear three witnesses: Brownbill’s bookkeeper, the interim head of the department of fiscal affairs at the Finance ministry, Chayadi, and Sherry Hazel, the head of the tax inspectorate.

The court denied the requests, but granted a postponement until March 29 to get more clarity about the calculation of the fiscal disadvantage caused by Brownbill’s failure to file his tax returns.

Photo caption: MP Chanel Brownbill enters the courthouse on Wednesday afternoon. Photo Milton Pieters.