Jacoba promised St. Maarten $2 million from Crime Fund

POSTED: 06/24/11 12:42 PM

Prosecutor Mos: “$2.5 million disappeared on October 8”

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Former Justice Minister Magali Jacoba promised St. Maarten in writing a $2 million payment from the Netherlands Antillean Crime Find long before the transition to country status last year. “So far we have not received a penny,” Chief Prosecutor mr. Hans Mos told this newspaper yesterday.

St. Maarten made a significant contribution to the Crime Fund in 2008, after the Common Court of Justice confirmed the verdicts against two Latvian swindlers, Serge and Galina Slipachenko. In the course of the Slipachenko investigation, investigators confiscated more than $8 million in cash.

“That money was deposited in the Crime Fund,” Mos said. “Withdrawals have been made from that fund. On October 8 $2.5 million disappeared from the fund. It has disappeared. The rest of the money is in the settlement fund. We could use that money in St. Maarten very well.”

The prosecutor said that the court rulings against the Slipachenkos have become irrevocable, though Galina Slipachenko has gone in cassation over the first two counts against her. They have however no bearing on the swindling practices of the Latvian couple that in the meantime has obtained Canadian nationality.

Apart from the money that has been confiscated in the course of the investigation, the Slipachenkos are also faced with attempts by the prosecutor’s office to get its hands on the illegal profits the swindlers made from their schemes. “We have to make it plausible that they have taken that money, and if the court sentences them for it, they have to pay it back. If they don’t pay, they have to go back to jail.”

In a court ruling dated June 26, 2009, the Slipachenkos were sentenced to repay to the Netherlands Antilles or its legal successor (country St. Maarten) $4.1 million. If the Slipachenkos don’t pay, they have to go back to jail for 6 years.

The difference between the confiscated money and the payment the state demands in the seizure procedure is simple: the confiscated money is in the bank (at least it was), and the other money still needs to be paid.

When the Slipachenkos were arrested in 2007, investigators confiscated three expensive cars – a Hummer, a BMW and a Honda – as well as a luxury yacht. The state also has the Slipachenkos home in Tamarind Hill as collateral; in 2007 the property was valued at $1.5 million.

As soon as the verdict for seizing their illegal profits is irrevocable we will be able to sell these assets,” Mos said. “The boat is still in the port here. The sale will not be enough to cover what they’d have to pay the state, so they would still have an obligation to come up with the difference. If that does not happen we could consider asking Canada to extradite them, but I am at this moment not sure whether the country would honor such a request.”

Yesterday, Serge and Galina Slipachenko made a surprise appearance in the Common Court of Justice. They returned to Canada after serving their sentence for the bank fraud (4 years and 5 months for Serge, and 6 years for Galina Slipachenko) where they now live in Toronto.

The couple came back to the island for a couple of days to attend their appeal hearing against the 2009 ruling in the seizure procedure. Slipachenko told the court that the couple has “several addresses in Canada.”

The appeal hearing was postponed until December 13 however, because Galina has gone in cassation against her sentence. “That sentence is not irrevocable yet,” Judge mr. J.P. de Haan said. “There is a link between the seizure procedure and the decision by the Supreme Court. Therefore we will not handle the case now. It is important that we examine the facts carefully.”

Solicitor General mr. A.C. van der Schans had given his vision in writing to the defense, and mr. J.J. Oedjaghir responded yesterday by submitting his written reply. The court gave the prosecution with the postponement another opportunity to react to the defense’s opinion

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