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Court seizes criminal proceeds from former head of immigration on St. Maarten

POSTED: 02/8/13

St. Maarten – The Court in First Instance sentenced former police commissioner Marcel Loor and his girlfriend Charlene Craig to pay the state 920,000 guilders (around $514,000) out of the more than 2.2 million guilders (over $1.2 million) in criminal proceeds the couple amassed from a scheme of social benefits fraud, rent subsidy fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. Non-compliance carries a prison sentence of 3 years. The defendants have two weeks to appeal the verdicts.

The verdict is below the demand prosecutor Maarten Hemelaar announced in court on February 11, 2009. The prosecutor wanted Loor and Craig to pay 1,285,000 guilders (close to $718,000).

The court sentenced the couple to a lower amount because it did not gain any insight in the costs the defendants must have had to make to generate their criminal proceeds. “It is not entirely implausible that the defendant Loor had savings when he left the Netherlands and that he received gifts from his parents and his grandparents,” the court ruled.

The ruling notes that these funds are not “fiscalized” – meaning that Loor did not paid tax on these funds or at least that he did not report this income on his tax return. The court states that these funds “fall in the financial union” – indicating that it considers this money to belong to both Loor and Craig, who are not married and who have in court always maintained that they kept their finances separate.

The court ruled that Loor and Craig failed to give the court any verifiable explanation about the nature and the scope of their unexplained financial resources.

On February 2, 2009, Loor’s attorney Ralph Richardson presented a supermarket owner in court as a witness. He told the court that he had given Loor $40,000 for a restaurant joint venture and that he had paid him around $10,000 for security advice. The restaurant project never materialized and the supermarket-owner said that Loor still owed him the $40,000.

Accountant Gerard Scholten also testified on Loor’s behalf that day, saying that it is plausible that Loor and Craig saved $1.3 million between 1993 and 2007. But the amounts he put in his report are not backed up by written proof; the information is solely based on statement made by Loor and Craig.

Loor defended himself against the money laundering charge with this statement: “If I do work for which I am paid black, that is not illegal, is it? I object to the assertion that this money comes from criminal activities.”

The procedure to seize assets from Loor and Craig stems from a criminal investigation that started back in 2007 with a complaint by Gordon Yee that he had paid Loor a $2,000 bribe to obtain re-entry permits for a foreign woman he wanted to marry and for her best girlfriend. When push came to shove, the bribery-charge was never proven, but the prosecution found plenty of material to convict Loor, and subsequently his girlfriend Charlene Craig for defrauding the Coast Guard, money laundering and tax evasion.

In July 2010, after a long trek through the courts, Loor was found guilty and sentenced to 24 months imprisonment, with 6 months suspended and a 15,000 guilders (a bit more than $8,300) fine. By the time the final ruling arrived, he had already served his prison sentence.

The appeals court sentenced Charlene Craig in March 2009 to a 12-month suspended prison sentence with 2 years of probation and 200 hours community service.

Remarkably, while Loor was convicted for defrauding the Coast Guard, Craig was acquitted of exactly the same charge. The couple received rent subsidy from the Coast Guard where Craig worked; when the off shore company Santana of which Loor is the sole shareholder, bought the house, they did not inform the Coast Guard and they kept receiving the rent subsidy.

Craig was also sentenced for social benefits fraud because she received benefits from the Netherlands without informing the proper authorities that she was working for the Coast Guard.

The Loor-case also brought down the Standard Trust Company – the vehicle the couple used to deposit huge amounts of cash into the account of their offshore company. The two Standard Trust directors and one associate were all sentenced to a 10,000 guilders fine and the company lost its license from the Central Bank.

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