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Published On: Wed, Feb 17th, 2021

MP Buncamper balks at decision to prosecute him

PHILIPSBURG — The Common Court of Justice has ordered the Public Prosecutor’s Office to prosecute MP Claudius Buncamper for crimes he allegedly committed when he was heading the Infrastructure Department at the Ministry of Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure (VROMI).

While the press release from the anti corruption task force (TBO) does not mention Buncamper by name (instead it speaks of “a politician in St. Maarten”) the suspect himself has already made public statements about his upcoming court case.

In July 2018 the Detective Cooperation Team (RST), directed by the TBO, started a broad criminal investigation under the codename Ruby into criminal actions with tenders for the management contracts at the dump. The suspicions against Buncamper focus on administrative corruption, in particular on taking bribes, abuse of office, forgery and the abuse of public funds for personal use.

Kees Broere reported in De Volkskrant that the accountant for Robelto and Sons, the company that managed the dump, was Buncamper’s spouse Maria Buncamper-Molanus.

In a public statement, Buncamper claims that investigators have threatened witnesses with prosecution if they did not make statements against him. “This is just one method used in a system plagued by abuse that allows RST/TBO to build a case against anyone in our community.”

But the Common Court arrived at a completely different conclusion last Friday. It judged that there is “a reasonable suspicion of guilt” and that therefore the investigators have “a substantiated suspicion.”

“The Public Prosecutor’s Office has not decided lightly to submit a demand for prosecuting the suspect,” the court ruled according to a press release issued by the TBO. “The demand is not politically motivated and there are no grounds of general interest that ought to result in refusing the order (to prosecute).”

The prosecutor’s office is now preparing a summons against Buncamper, so the case will end up in court in the near future.

Buncamper says in his public statement that the “evidence” he presented to the court “clearly invalidates all suspicions against me.” The MP adds that the investigation against him was “highly prejudicial” as well as “a targeted effort to implicate and accuse me.”

Buncamper furthermore claims that he “just finished a 10-year uphill battle that resulted in an acquittal.” This is a reference to his role in the Eco Green tax fraud scandal for which the court of appeals sentenced him to a fine of 25,000 guilders and 240 hours of community service. The Supreme Court has sent his case back to the appeals court for a retrial. Until that process has run its course, Buncamper’s conviction stands.

This is the second time Buncamper is facing legal troubles and the third time he is at the center of a local scandal. Back in 2008, when he was a member of the supervisory board at telecom provider TelEm, his wife’s Sky is the Limit foundation received a controversial 25,000 guilders subsidy, supposedly intended for the financing of some Carnival-related activity. That matter resulted in a motion of no confidence against Buncamper-Molanus, who was at the time a member of the island territory’s Executive Council. Buncamper stepped down from TelEm’s supervisory board.

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Public statement MP Claudius ‘Toontje’ Buncamper
Press release TBO via Public Prosecutor’s Office




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