Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2020

“Don’t pay Theo? That question did not arise.” – COURT REPORT UPDATED

PHILIPSBURG — “A deal was a deal,” says Ronald Maasdam, crown witness in the Larimar case, about paying bribes to Theo Heyliger and the late Roy Marlin. For years, the Dutch building consultant delivered a newspaper several times a month, with an envelope with banknotes hidden inside it. Until he incited Heyliger’s anger by withholding several hundred thousand euros. The fight led Maasdam to leave St. Maarten.

Today Ronald Maasdam (65) is back on the island for the first time after five years, as a crown witness and as a suspect. He is the last of five main suspects in the Larimar case to arrive at the Belair Center, which is set up as a court room for the final treatment of the case. Marksmen have posted themselves on the roof of the center and across the street, on the roof of the St. Maarten Medical Center. Maasdam arrives in an armored car. The driver goes on instruction from the security towards the side of the building, where Maasdam can get out virtually unseen. The crown witness is led through a side door into the main room by security guards.

Belair Community Center - Venue Larimar Court Case - 2020030905 JH

Maasdam, a tall man in a gray suit, is flanked by two lawyers. The three of them take their place at the first of five tables that are lined up in front of the judge. Maasdam is in the middle. His face is tense, his mouth twitching and eyebrows narrowed. Before the judge enters the room, he casts a glance at the four tables next to him, each with a suspect and his lawyer. Seen from Maasdam, Theo Heyliger sits at the last table. In between the two former friends sit the three co-suspects George Pelgrim, JanHendrik Boekaar and Ron Elferink.

Of the five suspects, only one, Theo Heyliger, has requested the assistance of an interpreter. The other suspects are not from St. Maarten, but born in the Netherlands, Curacao and South Africa. All have known each other for ten years, or longer. Maasdam, nicknamed ‘Smeerolie’ (‘Lubricating Oil’), but says he doesn’t know how he got that name, is suspected of having played a central role in collecting bribes and paying millions of dollars in bribes to politicians Heyliger and the late Roy Marlin.

Belair Community Center - Venue Larimar Court Case - Arrival Lawyers 20200309 JH

Heyliger is assisted by a lawyer from Curaçao, Eldon ‘Peppi’ Sulvaran. He wants to know from crown witness Maasdam where he currently sleeps, whether he is still staying in his house in Rotterdam. The Public Prosecutor immediately intervenes and forbids Maasdam from answering. Because of his safety, it would be unwise to make his whereabouts public, warns the prosecutor. “Maasdam has made an arrangement with the Public Prosecution Service, and he needs special security as a key witness.”

Sulvaran insists: “Maasdam had a house in Saint Martin, a house in Spain and one in the Netherlands. I want to know if he still has those real estate assets, and also what else he has gained from the deal with the Public Prosecution Service. ”

The lawyer criticizes the testimony of Maasdam, who invariably talks about ‘fees for work performed’ when he gets questions about the transactions to his three offshore companies on the Isle of Man and in Panama. Companies, he admits, who were represented by him alone. He signed contracts on behalf of one of these offshore companies with Windward Roads, Devcon and Volker Stevin for ‘bringing in projects’. For each project of more than one million dollars, 3 percent of the total amount went to one of its offshore companies for ‘work done’. Mr. Sulvaran lists a series of amounts of five, six and seven digits that Maasdam has received, millions of dollars in total, and asks for each of the transactions: “Name one of the work you did at the time.” Maasdam replies: “I don’t know anymore.”

According to the construction consultant, companies have never made a point of paying him a fee. And he did not only deliver his service to construction companies. KPMG also paid him a hefty sum, Maasdam testifies. “They were mainly Dutch companies. I could mean something to them, I arranged for them to receive assignments on St. Maarten and they gladly paid me for that. To be honest, I don’t see much harm in that.” He draws a comparison with lobbyists in Brussels. “How many do they ask for bringing parties together?”

Maasdam left for the former Netherlands Antilles in 1985 and became a civil servant on Curacao. About ten years later he started as a construction consultant on St. Maarten. He says he has been able to receive commission for years without having to share it. “That changed in 2005,” said Maasdam. “The political climate changed. A new generation of politicians arose on St. Maarten. They were no longer satisfied with just donations for election campaigns but wanted a share from my profit.” Meaning they asked for a share from the fee that Maasdam got. Before he could keep the fee himself, he said. The judge asked what happened if he didn’t pay the politicians. “The question of not paying did not arise.”

Maasdam made an agreement with the former deputies Theo Heyliger and the late Roy Marlin to divide the commission fifty-fifty; depending on the project, either Heyliger or Marlin received half the fee. “But after a while that changed: Theo wanted two-thirds,” Maasdam testifies, indicating that he was not happy about this. “But what do you do about it? Theo is the boss, he is in charge on St. Maarten.”

Theo Heyliger at Belair Center for Larimar Court Case 2020030902 JH

When doing business with Devcon for dredging the port for the arrival of a new cruise ship, a $ 7.9 million project, Heyliger has negotiated a commission of ten percent with the company, Maasdam says. “Theo has better commercial insight than I do,” he testifies. No tender procedure was followed. “Theo was in charge in the port, his will is law,” Maasdam explains.

Heyliger was entitled to more than $350,000 by agreement. It was decided for the first time to transfer this money by bank transfer, according to Maasdam. “I didn’t like that, because it leaves a trace.” A construction was conceived whereby an offshore company that was supposedly set up on behalf of Theo Heyliger acquired a piece of land in Red Pond. Via the bank, $300,000 was transferred to real estate agent ReMax in Anguilla. The remainder of the amount would have been paid in cash by Maasdam. “I thought: this cannot continue, withdraw large amounts of cash each time.”

Volker Stevin in Waddinxveen agreed to pay commission, but found three percent too much, Maasdam said. “They were willing to pay 2.5 percent. I signed the contract in the Netherlands and only then told Theo. He did not accept it.” According to Maasdam, Heyliger wanted two percent of the 2.5 percent. “About 600,000 dollars. He wanted to receive that money quickly, within two years. I didn’t have a good feeling about it.” Discussion about the distribution degenerated into arguments and threats, according to Maasdam. “I then decided that it was better to leave St. Maarten.”

Theo Heyliger going through security at Belair Center for Larimar Court Case 20200309 JH

The public prosecutor concludes that Maasdam, who never paid a cent tax on St. Maarten, has stolen from the people of St. Maarten for years. “As a crown witness, he has given openness, but he is a businessman and has not done it for nothing.” During the court session in May 2019, it appeared that Maasdam can look forward to 1.8 million euros, an amount that will be paid to him in installments, and that he may also keep 1.1 million euros of money obtained from crime. The condition is that Maasdam pays for his own security, according to the prosecutor.

As a crown witness, Maasdam can count on a reduction in sentences. The Public Prosecutor has demanded a three-year prison sentence, with the deduction of the five months that Maasdam has been in custody. It is not known where, in which country, he should serve the possible imprisonment. According to the crown witness and the prosecutor, no agreements have been made on this.


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UP Board: Prosecutor presents no physical evidence against Theo Heyliger
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