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Curacao has to pay naf 616,000 guilders in legal costs in Tromp Sapphire case

WILLEMSTAD – The Public Prosecution Service (OM) was sentenced by the Court by order of 8 October 2019 to compensate the financial loss incurred by former President of the Central Bank Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) Dr. Emsley D. Tromp for the defence in the Sapphire case.

In the spring of 2016, the Public Prosecution Service, under the responsibility of Attorney General Guus Schram and under the leadership of Chief Prosecutor Heiko de Jong, started a large-scale investigation into alleged fiscal offenses committed by the then director of the Central Bank of Curacao and Sint Maarten (CBCS).

After completing the first part of that investigation, Tromp was summoned in 2017 for committing tax fraud in the private sphere. The OM summonsed Tromp for the deliberate filing of an incorrect tax return.

The court of first instance did not share that opinion. Tromp was acquitted by judgment of 17 November 2017. The OM appealed against that judgment. On January 8, 2019, the Bank President was also fully and definitively acquitted on appeal. The Court ruled that his tax returns were in order, and that there was no evidence of any intention to harm the country of Curaçao.

The Public Prosecution Service appealed in cassation on December 23, 2018, despite 2 acquittals. According to the OM, that time was to study the two rulings in their context and to assess whether the law was violated. The OM subsequently withdrew the cassation appeal on 8 February 2019, making the acquittal definitive.

A decision of the Court on 8 October last determined that Tromp was right to claim procedural damage as a result of the prosecution, which lasted for more than 2.5 years. The Country, the taxpayer, pays for the costs of Tromp’s defence, estimated at around 616,000 guilders. The three judges noted that the Country “apparently spared no effort or expense”. “A legally complex case that has received a lot of publicity and that has had major consequences for Dr. Tromp, even without a conviction.”

The court also noted that the Attorney General and the Public Prosecution Service had used their best tactics against the now ex-president of the Central Bank. “The investigation against Tromp has been extensive, technical and in-depth and has been carried out by specialized investigators and relevant prosecutors.”

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