PHILIPSBURG - The Public Prosecutor (OM) has asked the Court of First Instance to sentence criminal lawyer B.B. to unconditional prison time of 6 months on charges of bribery and inciting an immigration employee to abuse her position, a press release from the OM said on Wednesday.
According to the Public Prosecutor during the “Ostrich” investigation it was discovered, as a result of seizing a phone with WhatsApp conversations between a number of suspects, that B.B. had bribed immigration officers J.M. and K.B. into allowing two undocumented persons, working for a well-known insurance company, to enter the island.
The Public Prosecutor asked the judge to convict suspect B.B. on proof of bribery and incitement but to acquit the suspect of the human smuggling charge on the bases that suspect J.M. was also acquitted of this charge in the “Ostrich” investigation.
“The investigation “Ostrich” has been deemed by the defense to specifically focus on suspect B.B. However this is far from the truth,” the Public Prosecutor stated.
“The evidence against B.B. was coincidentally found when the phone of another suspect was seized. Bribing immigration officials in any manner seriously damages confidence in the government.
“In addition, public policies on illegal residency and entry was seriously undermined. On a small island like St. Maarten with many incoming and outgoing visitors the importance of a well-functioning border control system cannot be sufficiently emphasized.”
Moreover the Public Prosecutor requested the judge to bar B.B. from the post on the Supervisory Board of the well-known insurance company. The Public Prosecutor pointed out that as Supervisory Director, the suspect should have supervised management and operations of the insurance company, rather than committing such a crime.
“Suspect B.B. has not taken responsibility for the offences and although had resigned from the Supervisory Board of the insurance company, there is still the risk of repetition,” stated the Public Prosecutor.
In addition the Public Prosecutor said that B.B. has abused the position as a criminal lawyer and has damaged the trust that society can and should place in lawyers. The Public Prosecutor suggested the Bar Association of St. Maarten discuss this case with B.B., as the Bar Association is the organization with primary responsibility. “The ball is first and foremost in the court of the Bar Association on this point,” said the Public Prosecutor.
In the “Ostrich” investigation a number of immigration officials were sentenced to severe unconditional prison sentences for, among other things, human smuggling, bribery, abuse of function and participation in a criminal organization. The court will announce the verdict on Wednesday, May 30th, 2018.