Former Minister Buncamper-Molanus not off the hook yet: Criminal investigation into lease-land scandal this year

POSTED: 07/16/13 12:24 PM

BuncamperPHF

In June Claudius Buncamper received a Paul Harris Fellowship award from the Rotary Club of St. Maarten, of which his wife is the president. Pictures from left to right are Danny Ramchandani, Prime-Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams, Claudius Buncamper, Maria Buncamper-Molanus and Robert Judd. After the summer, the Buncampers will be the subject of a criminal investigation. Photo contributed.

St. MaartenBy Hilbert Haar – The Public Prosecutor’s Office intends to start this year with the investigation into possible criminal acts by the former Minister of Public Health, Social Affairs and Labor Maria Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius. Solicitor-General Taco Stein confirmed this yesterday. “There is no reason not to start this investigation,” he said.

Whether the investigation will result in prosecution is another story altogether. Usually the prosecutor’s office only takes cases to court if there is enough proof of wrongdoing in the file and if it is convinced that it will be able to get a conviction. However, taking a case to court to clear a defendant of accusations is also an option, Stein said.

Buncamper-Molanus and her husband Claudius obtained the right to long lease of a piece of government-owned land on Pond Island opposite the Melford Hazel sports complex in April 2008. The annual lease canon for the land was approximately $10,000. Buncamper-Molanus was at the time she obtained the lease a member of the Executive Council.

In December 2008, less than eight months after the former minister obtained the lease, she sold the economic ownership of the land for $3 million to a company called Eco-Green NV. This company was established three days before the transaction. Its director is Theodore Oniel Walters, a at the time 64-year-old former employee of Public Works where Claudius Buncamper was his boss. Opposition leader William Marlin would later say in an interview with this newspaper that Walters “does not even own a wheelbarrow.”

Marlin also wondered at the time whether the transaction constitutes money laundering – an aspect that will certainly be part of the imminent criminal investigation.

The Buncampers drew up a deed at the notary office of Francis E. Gijsbertha. The deed is signed by the notary and states that Eco-Green paid $1.6 million up front; the rest would be paid in ninety monthly installments of $18,750.

When Buncamper-Molanus stepped down as minister under public and political pressure in a meeting of parliament on December 23, 2010, she declared in the meeting “no money had changed hands” – thereby putting the accuracy of the notarial deed into question.

The investigation into criminal aspects of the transaction have been put on the backburner after the prosecutor’s office was swamped with large-scale murder investigations in 2011 and 2012, but Attorney General Dick Piar already gave the green light for the investigation in 2011.

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Comments (2)

 

  1. Roman Elavod says:

    Fella is big dog in the LIONS CLUB and he accepting a fellowship award (which likely has a $$ value to it) from ROTARY. That is shameful in and of itself.

  2. Jeff says:

    Why an apology for the posted picture? They all know what they are being accused of. It is all a circle. They are all corrupted. Birds of a feather flocks together.