Published On: Mon, Mar 9th, 2020

Heyliger and four others stand trial in large bribery-case

PHILIPSBURG -– Starting today, Monday, March 9, five defendants are in court for one of the largest bribery scandals in St. Maarten’s history. While the charges have yet to be proven, the names of the defendants have inspired the court to handle the case in the Belair Community Center – not only because of the number of defendants, but also because of the expected high turnout of spectators.

Theo Heyliger, the founder and former leader of the United People’s party (UP) stands trial together with his stepfather George Pelgrim, former Windward Roads director Janhendrik Boekaar, Ronald Elferink and Ronald Maasdam. The court case is the capstone of the so-called Larimar investigation.

That this is not a simple case appears from the fact that the court has reserved five days for the proceedings – from Monday to Friday. Bad omen or not, the last day of the court hearing is on Friday the thirteenth.

The main players in the Larimar-case seem to be Heyliger, Maasdam and Boekhaar. This appears from the indictment against Heyliger that became public already in May 2019.

From that indictment we know that – according to the allegations by the public prosecutor’s office – Heyliger allegedly accepted bribes worth more than $5.5 million between 2004 and 2014 from Windward Roads, dredging company Devcon and Volker Stevin – the company that built the causeway bridge across the Simpson Bay Lagoon.

In exchange for the bribes, Heyliger granted the companies lucrative government contracts. Between January 1, 2004, and March 31, 2014, Windward Roads gave Heyliger $1,847,625, plus $850,000 in cash, $40,000 via a bank transfer and a share in the sale of a piece of land in Upper Princess Quarter. Windward Roads also extended a line of credit to Caribbean International Maritime Co., St. Maarten Shipping & Stevedoring and Nichirei Caribbean Co. worth 900,000 guilders ($502,793). Furthermore, Windward Roads did work on Heyliger’s home for 125,292 guilders ($75,583). The company also gave Heyliger a Dodge Charger worth $200,000.

Between April 1, 2009, and October 1, 2011, dredging company Devco TCI Ltd. and/or Ronald Maasdam and Caribbean Advice & Consultancy gave Heyliger $700,000 in exchange for a dredging contract. This part of the indictment also mentions a cash payment of $82,468 and a bank transfer of $260,000 but it is unclear whether this is part of the $700,000 bribe.

Between February 1, 2010, and March 31, 2014, Volker Construction International and Volker Stevin Caribbean allegedly bribed Heyliger for more than a million bucks: $1,065,524. Ronald Maasdam and Advanced Consultech are also involved in this deal that furthermore mentions a payment of $179,000 and a cash payment of $83,000.

Ronald Maasdam was the middleman for the bribes that allegedly ended up in Heyliger’s pockets. Maasdam, a construction consultant, has turned crown witness in return for a lower sentence.

Windward Roads reached an agreement with the prosecutor’s office and has paid a $2 million fine for its role in the bribery activities. The company’s former director Boekaar however, has to face criminal prosecution.

The exact charges against Boekaar, Pelgrim and Elferink will appear from their indictments that will become public today.


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