st maarten judith roumou

Sarah Wescot Williams: The Clock is ticking

SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) – “It should be emphasized that St. Maarten has already complied with most of the AML/CTF recommendations. The last few recommendations to be implemented on St. Maarten have however generated the most contention,” Leader of the United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot Williams said in a press statement on Sunday.

“Understandably so, because these recommendations have been inserted into our Civil, respectively Criminal Codes. In brief, the matter of shares in bearer’s name will no longer be possible (Civil Code). The offenses of money laundering and terrorism financing will be named as such and penalized as such (Criminal Code).

“Thirdly and most importantly, the entire Criminal Procedure Code has been revised, following the revision of the Criminal Code several years ago. The Criminal Procedure Code regulates the process of punishment, prosecution, sentencing, appealing, due process etc., not only for money laundering and terrorist acts, but for all criminal offenses.

“As with all legislation, the above Codes had to be handled in Central Committee and then in a public meeting, where they will be voted on. Due to the differences in opinion regarding these laws, their effects or no effects as some in parliament have claimed, and not wanting to risk a voting down of these laws, I kept asking of the minister that he reviews the concerns expressed by Members of Parliament and seek a compromise.

“I recommend that the general public check back in the meetings of parliament online to hear the views as expressed by members of parliament. I also requested the offices of the Court and the Public Prosecutor as well as the Bar Association to provide Parliament with their views on the topic of Crown Witness. It should be noted that the Crown Witness is permissible and practiced today in our justice system.

“We are faced with the question of letting it remain as is (jurisprudence) or giving it a place in our Criminal Procedure Code. Once written (codified), it can be easier contested and challenged. The Ministry of Justice and the Secretariat of parliament are now working on the reports from the Central Committee meetings on these laws, in order to proceed to the Public Meeting.

“In the meantime, the clock is ticking towards November. If the parliament is serious about avoiding a statement from the CFATF, that could potentially cripple our entire financial system, this matter can be resolved as follows:

1. The minister declared himself willing to address the “automatic de-registering” of foundations etc. by the Chamber of Commerce.

2. The Ombudsman’s check (6 weeks period) should be included in the law to ensure there are no constitutional infringements. That is not currently the case.

3. The much-contended CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE, if passed, will only go into effect by another NATIONAL ORDINANCE. So, parliament will have another opportunity to vote on the effective date of our new Criminal Procedure Code. I will propose when we get so far to consider a different implementation date for some parts of the Criminal Procedure Code. Like this, parliament’s understanding for the risk of non compliance will be evident from the passing of the law AND parliament’s concerns for some parts of the law, due to time pressure, can be allayed by legislating the implementation only after further and in-depth analysis of those specific parts.

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