Buncamper-Molanus remains in the crosshairs of justice: Former minister still under investigation

POSTED: 01/20/14 1:16 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – The office of the solicitor-general still has the intention to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing by former Minister of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor Maria Buncamper-Molanus. The investigation has to do with the sale of the economic ownership of land the former minister holds on long lease for $3 million to the bogus company Eco-

Green NV in 2008. The affair forced Buncamper-Molanus to step down in December 2010, a couple of months after she took office in the first Wescot-Williams cabinet.

In July of last year, Solicitor-General Taco Stein told this newspaper “that there is no reason not to do this investigation.” The intention was to start the project in the second half of last year.

The prosecutor’s office had already asked for support from the Detective Collaboration Team RST – especially financial expertise – to help with the investigation before the summer. But the assassination of Pueblo Soberano leader Helmin Wiels on May 5 of last year in Curacao threw a spanner in the works. Obviously, the Wiels-murder changed the priorities for the RST and the assistance for the Buncamper-Molanus investigation was put on hold.

This week the investigation will be on the agenda in a meeting of the solicitor-general with the RST, Stein told this newspaper. A possible prosecution of Buncamper-Molanus (and possibly also of her husband Claudius Buncamper) does not require a procedure at the Common Court of Justice as was the case with the prosecution of Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge. Stein confirmed that this is not necessary because the facts of the case date back to 2008, when the national ordinance on the prosecution of politicians was not in place yet.

On December 8, 2010, this newspaper revealed that Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius sold the economic ownership of a piece of land they hold on long lease on Pond Island to Eco-Green NV for $3 million in December 2008. The minister had obtained the long lease just eight months earlier.

Eco-Green turned out to be a bogus company that was established for the purpose of the transaction on December 16, 2008, three days before the Buncampers signed a deed at the office of notary Gijsbertha. The deed stipulated that the seller, Eco-Green director Theodore Oniel Walters, paid $1.6 million up front for the deal; the rest was to be paid in ninety monthly installments of $18,750. Walters, 64 at the time, is a former employee of public works, where former Minister Buncamper-Molanus’ husband Claudius happens to be in charge.

On December 23, 2010, Buncamper-Molanus made her position available but not before making a few remarkable statements. The first one is that she denied that money had changed hands, the second one that she did not know which rules she had broken.

The deed from notary Gijsbertha belies the statement Buncamper-Molanus made in parliament. Opposition leader William Marlin hinted at the time in an interview with this newspaper at the possibility of money laundering – and that will most likely be the focus of the upcoming investigation.

Solicitor-General Stein said that some work has already been done, but that it is too early to give an indication of when the investigation will reach the stage where a decision is possible about taking it to court.

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