Published On: Thu, Oct 8th, 2020

Creative brains in overdrive

By Hilbert Haar

That opportunity makes the thief became once more clear from the case of a man who scammed Social and Health Insurances SZV in three years time for almost $190,000 – thus creating a handsome but illicit net monthly salary of more than $5,000 for himself without doing any real work.

Read first: Local businessman sentenced for selling SZV doctor cards

As we all know – or at least should know – integrity is doing the right thing when nobody is watching. The SZV-scammer did of course exactly the opposite.

While it is not in my DNA to stand up as the defender of people who break the law, I have to point out here that there are several parties involved in this case: the scammer, the company that facilitated the scam, the people who benefited from it, the (financial) victim (SZV) and last but not least country St. Maarten.

Corruption can never be successful if there is only one party involved. Like in a good marriage, it takes (at least) two to tango, but the one whose signature is on all incriminating documents is always the one to carry the can.

The company that facilitated the scam has already been fined by SZV but it is fair to wonder whether it is also criminally responsible. So far, the company has not been dragged into court by the public prosecutor.

And what about the 54 individuals who obtained SZV-cards based on a forged labor contract? They knew darn well that these contracts were faked, so they were willing participants in the scam. Will the prosecutor take these people to court as well?

The responsibility of SZV is also worthy of closer scrutiny. It is easy to say that the insurer is the victim in all this, but the question remains: how could this happen? How could this scheme continue for three years straight without anybody ever checking whether the applicants really worked for the facilitating company, an entity with the obscure name of Enrmar Consulting Management.

One could have wondered, for instance: is it normal that an obscure consulting firm employs more than fifty people? Or did somebody wonder and was there a shortage of staff that pushed the investigation onto the back burner?

Fact is, SZV started an investigation more than three years after the fact, in the late summer of 2016. But this delayed reaction and the fact that the scam continued for three years, surely shows that there is (or at least was) something seriously lacking in the internal control systems at SZV.

Therefore, it seems legitimate to ask now whether those control systems have improved. If nothing has changed there could be others running exactly the same scam to the detriment of SZV and to the detriment of the country that could be issuing unjustified residence permits.

Is the case at hand then the tip of the proverbial iceberg? It is frustrating that we just don’t know – but we should know: it is important not only for SZV and the country, but also for companies that play by the rules and are put at a disadvantage by those who don’t.

Let’s not forget that the scam we are discussing here took place at a time when the economy was doing relatively well; and still somebody saw the need for running a scam to generate an above average income.

These days, our economy is flat on its back and there is hardly any perspective for improvement in the short term. Desperate times require desperate measures, but that is not only true for government and companies. It is also true for those who are currently holding the short end of the stick, for those who have no realistic option to put bread on the table.

We find ourselves in a situation that puts creative brains in overdrive. And I am not just talking about explicit criminal minds here. I am thinking about the creative minds of citizens who are with their back against the wall – and about what they are prepared to do to survive.

I mean, it is easy to say that people have to keep their integrity – doing the right thing when nobody is watching. But what would you do without a job, without income, with bills you are unable to pay and a family you are unable to feed?


Related article: Local businessman sentenced for selling SZV doctor cards