Two Bonairean politicians to court in November: Booi confident about corruption-trial

POSTED: 08/26/13 1:27 PM

KRALENDIJK – Ramonsito Booi and Burney El Hage will appear in court on November 25 to face charges of corruption, money laundering, forgery and fraud. El Hage is a former Minister of Economic Affairs of the Netherlands Antilles and currently a Commissioner in Bonaire’s Executive Council. Booi is a former Member of the Antillean Parliament and a former commissioner in Bonaire.

The court case signals the conclusion of a large-scale investigation into fraud and corruption in Bonaire’s public administration. Since 2010, Bonaire is a public entity of the Netherlands.

The summonses that have been served show, as Booi confirmed to NRC Handelsblad, that he has to give account for a land transaction. The accusation is that Booi favored a company he had dealings with as director of a Bonairean government-owned company and as advisor of the Executive Council. From the same company he bought a private piece of land, according to the charges far below the market price.

El Hage is charged with accepting gifts at the time his house was built and of mortgage-fraud. El Hage’s wife has also been summoned. The Public Prosecutor’s office did not want to react to the report.

Booi and El Hage are both members of the Union Patriotiko Boneriano (UPB), the sister party of the CDA in Bonaire. Booi was its party leader for many years and he was an advisor to the UPB-dominated Executive Council.

In 2008 the Public Prosecutor’s Office in what was then the Netherlands Antilles started an investigation into fraud, kickbacks and money laundering practices in Bonaire. From the investigation emerged the suspicions against the two politicians. In 2009 the Kingdom Detective Agency conducted house searches at the homes of Booi and El Hage. After the prosecution dismissed the case, the Common Court of Justice ruled in September of last year that the two politicians still ought to be prosecuted.

Booi says that he looks forward to the trial with confidence. “Of the corruption investigation into eight dossiers only one suspicion in one dossier remains. Let them prove that Burney and I did something that is not allowed.”

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