Standard Trust case: Attorneys ask court to acquit two directors

POSTED: 03/7/16 11:11 AM

St. Maarten News – The Common Court of Justice will rule on March 23 on a case against two directors of the Standard Trust Company who have been charged with factually directing money laundering activities and violating the law that obliges financial institutions to report unusual transactions to the MOT-office.

Solicitor-General Ton van der Schans asked the court to confirm an earlier verdict and sentence the two directors to a 10,000 guilders conditional fine. The attorneys for the two defendants asked for an acquittal.

For the first time, the court saw a married couple act in one trial: Monique Hofman as the attorney for Standard Trust accountant Jody Garner and her husband Bert as the attorney for director Corinne de Tullio-Stamm.

The legal procedures against the Standard Trust directors has a long history and goes back to 2007, when the company’s name surfaced in the investigation against Marcel Loor, the former head of the immigration department at the police force. Loor deposited huge sums of money at the trust company.

In 2009, Standard Trust and its directors went to court for the first time, but the case was postponed until 2010. After convictions in First Instance and on appeal, the case went to the Supreme Court that referred it back to the Appeals Court because it found no evidence in the dossier that the two directors had factually directed the criminal activities.

Depending on the ruling of the Appeals Court, the legal saga could end on March 23, almost nine years after the first signs of trouble appeared on the horizon.

The defense attorneys told the court that the three directors of the company had a clear division of tasks. Allard Stamm was charged with due diligence and reporting unusual transactions, his wife Corinne, who became a director in 1994, was not charged with these tasks, nor was accountant Garner. Bert Hofman told the court that the company was not even obliged to report unusual transactions. “Before 2004 there reporting was mandatory for banks, only afterwards it became mandatory for trust offices, but only related to offshore companies. After 2010 it became mandatory also for onshore companies.”

Hofman said that Standard Trust is not a financial institution and that the law about unusual transactions only applied to such institutions during the period Standard Trust is charged with wrongdoing. He also noted that many businesses in St. Maarten favor cash transactions.

Monique Hofman added that transactions above the limit for reporting – 20,000 guilders at the time – are not necessary unusual. There also have to be indicators for money laundering, and none of those indicators were present.

“At the advice of the Central Bank, other transactions have been reported afterwards. It is incomprehensible that the prosecution still continued with the case.”

Hofman emphasized that Standard Trust had voluntarily surrendered its trust license and that it had not been revoked by the Central Bank.

“Other trust offices in St. Maarten did not report unusual transactions either but they were never prosecuted,” Bert Hofman said. “Before 10-10-10 the MOT worked inadequately; they had no office and no director in St. Maarten and the information they gave out was inadequate.”

That the director responsible for reporting unusual transactions did not do so does not make the other directors complicit, Hofman said. In this respect the attorneys referred to the Slavenburg-case in the Netherlands where also only one member of the supervisory board was prosecuted for wrongdoing.

Solicitor-General Van der Schans did not buy the argument about favored cash transactions. “Loor was not a businessman; he was a police officer who received his salary via a bank. You did not want to see that these transactions were unusual.”

Referring to other trust companies that have not been prosecuted, Van der Schans noted that there is no such thing as the right not to be prosecuted. He furthermore argued that the directors should have actively informed themselves about the rules. “Problems at the MOT do not discharge you from mandatory reporting. The evidence for factual directing these activities are still there.”

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