photo: Hilbert Haar

PHILIPSBURG – MP Theo Heyliger accepted nearly ten million dollars in bribes over a period of ten years from road construction company Winward Roads, bridge builder Volker Stevin, and dredger Devcon TCI. This became clear after the subpoena of the Office of the Public Prosecutor was released on Monday.

Heyliger was arrested in February as a suspect in the Larimar case, who’s focus was rampant fraud and corruption within the construction industry on Sint Maarten. The Office of the Public Prosecutor suspects that several individuals within the government are a part of this corruption ring.

Alderman and minister
Heyliger was the alderman in charge of Public Works till the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010. After that he became the first minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment, and Infrastructure for Sint Maaarten, the new country. Up until the moment he was arrested in February he was a member of parliament as the leader of the United Democrats.

Between January 1, 2004 and March 31, 2014 Winward Roads paid Heyliger almost $1.8 million (3.2 million guilders), $850,000 (1.5 miliion guilders) in cash, and additional $40,000 (71,600 guilders) by wire transfer. The contractor also provided a line of credit amounting to 900,000 guilders to three companies, carried out work on Heyliger’s property for an amount of 135,000 guilders, and gifted him a Dodge Charger – which according to the subpoena – was valued at $200,000 (385,000 guilders).

Between April 1, 2009 and October 1, 2011 Heyliger accepted several other bribes: $700,000 (1,253,000 guilders) for a dredging contract awarded to Devcon TCI Ltd. Ronald Maasdam and Caribbean Advice & Consultancy were also involved with this deal.

Construction of bridge
Lastly Volker Construction International and Volker Stevin Caribbean paid Heyliger – through Maasdam and Advanced Consultech – almost 2 million guilders (1,065,524) for the right to build a road bridge over Simpson Bay Lagoon.

‘Leave our Theo alone’

Not every Sint Maartener is happy with Heyliger’s arrest, as can be made up from the reactions we got on the streets of Philipsburg in February, shortly after his arrest. The Anti-Corruption Taskforce (Team Bestrijding Ondermijning) which falls under the supervision of the National Detectives (Recherche Samenwerkings Team) is involved with the case. The National Detectives (RST) is a collaboration between the Netherlands and the islands and is responsible for fighting cross-border criminality and local severe criminal acts. “The Dutch have to deal with their own corruption scandals first and leave our Theo alone”:

By Tim van Dijk [English subtitles]