American University tax deal: Minister authorized to lift confidentiality-rule

POSTED: 03/6/15 1:30 PM

St. Maarten – Repeated attempts by National Alliance MP Christopher Emmanuel to get information about the tax-deal with the former owners of the American University in Cupecoy have so far stranded on Finance Minister Maarten Hassink’s refusal to make information about individual tax payers public, citing confidentiality. However, it appears now that the minister has the authority to make exceptions to this rule.

The general national ordinance on taxes (Algemene Landsverordening Landsbelastingen), indeed contains the obligation of confidentiality in article 1. “Everyone who is involved in the execution of the tax ordinance and gets data at his disposal of which he knows the confidential character (….) is obliged to keep that information confidential, except when any legal rule obliges him to reveal it or when the necessity to reveal it follows from his duties.”

The confidentiality rule does not only apply to those who are bound by it through their profession (like tax inspectors), but also to everyone else who gets access to tax information.

The confidentiality rule does not apply to criminal acts as described in articles 198 and 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedures.

There is however another exception. Article 3 states: “The minister is allowed to grant dispensation of the ban stated in article 1.”

Intentionally breaking the confidentiality rule carries a maximum penalty of 2 years of imprisonment and a maximum fine of 100,000 guilders ($55,865). Those who are faulted for such a breach of confidentiality (but do not reveal the information themselves) risk 6 months of imprisonment and a 100,000 guilders fine.

Prosecution of those who violate the confidentiality only takes place after a complaint from the party whose confidentiality has been violated.

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