Published On: Sun, Mar 15th, 2020

‘The Public Prosecution Service on St. Maarten has known what was going on for years’

Belair Community Center - Venue Larimar Court Case - 2020030907 JH
PHILIPSBURG — “Those who end up in the mill can be ground through it.” That is the view of lawyer Robbert de Bree, who points out that his client JanHendrik Boekaar, dismissed director of Windward Roads is involved in bribery, but did not start it. Windward Roads, with the knowledge of parent company Janssen de Jong, hired Ronald Maasdam, prime suspect in the Larimar case, as a ‘lobbyist’ from the early 1990s. Payments to politicians probably took place long before Boekaar became director in 2005.

Prime suspect Ronald Maasdam, in exchange for a 50 percent sentence reduction and a $ 3.1 million in compensation, as a key witness in the Larimar case told the judge that he only started paying bribes to politicians as of 2005. Maasdam designates Theo Heyliger and the late Roy Marlin as beneficiaries.

The funds that Heyliger and Marlin would have received from Maasdam came from three offshore companies, registered in Isle of Man, Panama and Nevis. These companies, all owned by Maasdam, by him alone, received more than $3 million from Windward Roads, the American company DevCon and the Dutch VolkerWessels as of March 2006. The public prosecutor suspects Heyliger of assuming at least a million dollars on the basis of Maasdam’s statements about tens of large amounts that he withdrew in cash from accounts of his offshore companies.

Janssen de Jong, the parent company of Windward Roads, knew about payments to Heyliger, according to lawyer De Bree. “Mr. Philipse, area manager and chairman of the board of directors (from Janssen de Jong, ed.) For many years, co-decided on a payment of hundreds of thousands of dollars to Heyliger because Maasdam did not fulfill his obligations in this regard.” In January this year during the lawsuit over his dismissal, Boekaar admitted that in 2011 under his leadership $600,000 was paid to Theo Heyliger. He also stated that he did this in consultation with Ronald Philipse, former CEO of Janssen de Jong.

During the handling of the Larimar case in Belair, lawyer De Bree refers to the bribing of civil servants in Limburg by Janssen de Jong Infra employees. That affair started in 2008 and a few years later led to eleven convictions for construction fraud. The lawsuit revealed that Janssen de Jong’s management knew about corruption within the company.

Boekaar’s lawyer points out to the judge a salient fact about the area manager of Janssen de Jong Caribbean: It is the same Ronald Philipse who, after Janssen de Jong paid an expensive lesson for the bribery affair in Limburg in 2009, had the task of implementing the corporate compliance program. De Bree: “The local confidant within that program was Mr. Holtland, who has since been punished with community service for forgery.” Janssen de Jong made a departure arrangement with Jan Peter Holtland.

Ronald Philipse stated during interrogation that he thought that the contract with Advance Consultech (AC) had already ended in 2006-2007 and that he did not know that Ronald Maasdam was behind AC. “Both comments are nonsensical,” says lawyer De Bree. “A man with the stature of Philipse, chairman of the board of Janssen de Jong from 2009-2012, obviously did not sign a contract with AC in 2004, with a 3 percent fee without knowing who was behind AC. Maasdam confirmed at the first court session on March 9, 2020, that Philipse knew this. The termination in 2006-2007 is also incorrect. Philipse’s statement is therefore implausible and unreliable.”

The public prosecutor states that he “also recognizes that Boekaar was stuck” and that he “has little left after the fraud”, but that it does not relieve him of responsibility. The payments would have been too often, too long and too structural for that. The Public Prosecution Service demands twelve months imprisonment. The suspect’s lawyer asks the judge for leniency.

JanHendrik Boekaar (56) came to St. Maarten in 1988. He had done MTS civil engineering in the Netherlands and had been a non-commissioned officer in the army. After his military service, at the age of 24, he left for St. Maarten with just a suitcase and barely enough money for a scooter. The scooter was stolen after two days. He found temporary employment at Windward Roads. After six months he started working as a painter elsewhere and started a one-man business. Three years later he went back to work at Windward Roads and eventually became executive and project leader.

When director Jan Aben left, Boekaar came into the picture. Lawyer De Bree: “He was tested and was found to be unsuitable. Vasseur (successor of Aben, ed.) said it firmly, in essence Boekaar failed for all tests. And so the Executive Board did not want him.” According to the lawyer, it is not clear how Boekaar was suddenly considered suitable a year later. “The parties involved hint that they went along with the proposal by Philipse who did see a director in Boekaar.”

According to his lawyer, Janssen de Jong has left Boekaar struggling for years. “There was certainly no question of intensive supervision. Admittedly, Philipse, as a manager, initially kept an eye on things and made Boekaar somewhat at home in basic accounting, financial planning and management. For the most part, Boekaar was left to solve things himself.”

This did not change over the years and the bond with the management and the parent company became less rather than more, the lawyer concludes. For example, Pieter van Gulik stated that when he was area manager – the manager of Boekaar – he only came to Sint Maarten four to five times a year. And also that Boekaar “is there alone on the island and if he wants to contact the Netherlands, he must take into account the time difference.”

Boekaar was in charge of twelve employees in the office and about 65 employees outside. “Nearly 80 families he felt responsible for,” says his lawyer. “Boekaar knew and knows of himself that he is not so good at the political games that some clients play. To that extent he was happy that the construction company had Maasdam who took on the role of ‘oil man’.”

Boekaar previously told the judge that he did not know that money paid to Maasdam ended up in Heyliger’s pockets. Until 2011, when Maasdam wanted the percentage he got from Windward Roads to be increased from three to four percent. The reason he gave was that he had to pay Heyliger and that “there was almost nothing left for him.”

When Maasdam did not transfer $600,000 in bribes from Volker Stevin to Heyliger in connection with the Simpson Bay Causeway, the politician would have personally turned to Windward Roads, Boekaar said. “Then I went to Ronald and I said: You have to pay Theo for the bridge. Ronald then said that he was not going to do that. I said that is not possible because his problem became my problem while I had nothing to do with it.” When Maasdam suddenly left the island, the problem was one hundred percent on his plate, says Boekaar. “I don’t know why he was so scared, only that he was scared like death, otherwise you wouldn’t pack your stuff and leave like that.”

The government and the Public Prosecution Service on St. Maarten had known for a long time what was going on, emphasizes lawyer De Bree: “Yet persons like Janhendrik Boekaar, who were pressured by Heyliger, did not receive support from the law enforcement officers. Actually, there was no action until the TBO (Team Bestrijding Ondermijning) was established (in 2016, ed.).” Reports to the police were often not taken seriously, the lawyer found. “Too long, and still partly today, to resist the culture that TBO is tackling was primarily a theoretical option.”

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Related links:
Request for double acquittal in LARIMAR case
Sulvaran: “The public prosecutor has trampled on the rights of Heyliger”
Letter to the Editor: “Reporting error?
Opinion piece by Hilbert Haar: “The crown witness
TBO releases press statement and video explaining LARIMAR case
Press release TBO explaining LARIMAR case and Prosecution demands
Press release TBO explaining LARIMAR case and Prosecution demands – in Dutch
Public Prosecutor’s Office demands Heyliger be immediately imprisoned
Theo Heyliger: ‘I never accepted money from Maasdam’
Heyliger denies everything
“Don’t pay Theo? That question did not arise.”
Larimar-trial: 3 years demand against Maasdam, UP board claims innocence for Heyliger
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