Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2020

Larimar-trial: 3 years demand against Maasdam, UP board claims innocence for Heyliger

Theo Heyliger at Belair Center for Larimar Court Case 2020030902 JH

PHILIPSBURG – The public prosecutor demanded a 3-year prison sentence on Monday against Ronald Maasdam, the 66-year old crown witness in the LARIMAR corruption trial.

Maasdam implicated the late Roy Marlin and the founder of the United People’s party (UP) Theo Heyliger in the bribery schemes where he functioned as the middleman, collecting around 2.5 percent of the project price for his efforts. Initially he shared this money equally with Heyliger, later he kept one-third of the bribes.

Maasdam said that he had paid bribes to Heyliger in cash with funds obtained through the Standard Trust Company, but that no records of these payments existed: “You don’t put that stuff on paper.”

Maasdam said that he did keep track of the payments in a notebook but that he had destroyed the relevant page after investigators raided the offices of the Standard Trust Company.

When Heyliger’s attorney Eldon Sulvaran questioned Maasdam and asked for specifics, the defendant conveniently claimed loss of memory and referred to the relevant contracts for the scope of his consultancy activities.

While Maasdam remained short on details in this respect, he portrayed Heyliger as the lynch pin in the bribery scheme: “His word was the law; you cooperated or you were boycotted. Bypassing Theo was impossible.”

When Windward Roads declined to pay the 2 percent consultancy fee to win the bid for building the causeway bridge across the lagoon, the relationship between Maasdam and Heyliger deteriorated and the project went to Volker Stevin.

The board of the United People’s party was quick to defend its founder after the first court day. In an elaborate statement, the UP-board notes that, apart from statements made by Maasdam, there is “no physical evidence of wrongdoing against Heyliger.”

The board labeled the charges against Heyliger as “frivolous and without grounds” and focused instead on what it considers the role of crown witness Maasdam as “the architect behind corrupt practices among Dutch construction firms.”

Furthermore, the board notes in its statement that the trial highlights the problems members of parliament have with amendments to the code of criminal procedures that include the regulation of crown witnesses in St. Maarten.

Describing their party’s founder as “very small fish” the board writes  that “they are using their own big fish to try and unjustly destroy a St. Maartener who has done so much for this country and who can’t run to Spain.”

The statement concludes with the board’s firm belief in Heyliger’s innocence and – before the independent judge has spoken – anticipates his full acquittal.


Related articles:
Heyliger and four others stand trial in large bribery-case
UP Board: Prosecutor presents no physical evidence against Theo Heyliger
Photo reportage start LARIMAR trial at Belair Community Center