Comparative Analysis of Corruption Cases:
The cases of Benny “The Ostrich” Sevinger & Richard de Mos c.s.
The other day a friend sent me a note about this Dutch case involving a politician accused of corruption that was acquitted on all charges. This friend was led to believe that this case “proves” that prosecution and the conviction for bribery of Benny “the Ostrich” Sevinger was wrong. So I thought of two things:
The media spin doctors, and Benny’s party loyalists are at work trying to whitewash the conviction, and
Let’s compare the two cases and see what we can learn from them.
The Dutch case
On April 21st, 2023, the Rotterdam court acquitted the politician Richard de Mos of all charges against him. The same decision was made in almost all cases involving his co-defendants. Only one co-defendant has been convicted of weapon possession and sentenced to four months of probationary imprisonment. In this case, the entrepreneurs involved made party donations totaling €100,659.33 to the political party “Hart voor Den Haag” (Heart for The Hague). It was initially established that these party donations were not gifts to De Mos and his colleagues personally but rather contributions to the political party. However, it is possible that some intangible value from the entrepreneurs may have indirectly reached De Mos and his colleagues through these party donations. A well-funded election campaign could potentially lead to increased publicity, status, and a sense of pride. The extent of this indirect value cannot be quantified, let alone determined whether it was substantial enough to improve the position of De Mos and his colleagues significantly. The Court concluded that no malicious intent could be inferred from the party donations. A party donation is generally made with a positive intention. In light of these circumstances, the burden of proof for malicious intent by the donors in the alleged bribery had to be exceptionally clear. Despite an extensive examination of all suspected favors and counter-services, the evidence did not support the notion of any malicious intent on the part of the entrepreneurs. Therefore, De Mos and his co-defendants were acquitted of bribery charges and the charges of participating in a criminal organization.
The Sevinger “Ostrich” case shares similarities with the previously mentioned corruption and bribery case. Both cases involve politicians/public officials who face charges of bribery and illicit activities. However, there are also notable differences in the specific charges, evidence, and outcomes. This analysis compares and contrasts the two cases based on their key aspects.
“The Ostrich” case involves the conviction of former Minister and current senator Sevinger for passive official bribery and embezzlement. The evidence presented during the investigation led to his sentencing of 12 months in jail, with six months being conditional. Sevinger was also disqualified from holding public office for five years. The conviction document spans 50 pages, indicating the complexity of the case. The Dutch case resulted in the acquittal of Richard de Mos and his co-defendants on charges of membership in a criminal organization and bribery.
In “The Ostrich” case, Sevinger was found guilty of accepting bribes and embezzlement. He received significant money through his foundation, “Fundacion Curason Berde” and accepted gifts such as a garden fence and face workout equipment. The court concluded that these gifts and funds were intended to influence Sevinger’s decisions as a public official, compromising his objectivity and independence. In my previous column on the Ostrich, I outlined the full details. In that case, the amount of money that was involved was Afl. 180,120 or about €93,000. In the case of Richard de Mos, his political party was accused of receiving €100,659.33 in gifts/bribes. While the Court in Rotterdam found no evidence of bribery (or embezzlement), the court in Aruba did to the tune of €93,000.
Key Differences and Similarities
Sevinger faced passive official bribery and embezzlement charges, while De Mos and his co-defendants were charged with membership in a criminal organization and bribery. Sevinger and his co-defendants were not charged with participating in a criminal organization. De Mos was not accused of embezzlement.
De Mos resigned from his public position while he was under investigation and undergoing trial. Sevinger didn’t resign from his position as a senator. He clung to his elected work like it was a lifeline. The man was sworn in as soon as he was released from his detention.
Sevinger was convicted and sentenced to jail time, while De Mos and his co-defendants were acquitted, except for one co-defendant’s conviction on a separate charge.
The evidence presented in each case varied, with the court in “The Ostrich” case highlighting substantial gifts and funds linked to Sevinger’s actions. The court found insufficient evidence of malicious intent or direct improvement of positions resulting from party donations in the De Mos case.
Impact and Public Perception
The conviction of Sevinger resulted in a loss of trust in the government and its officials. The court emphasized the importance of transparency and integrity in governance and powerfully conveyed that betraying public trust would lead to legal consequences. The acquittal of De Mos and his co-defendants generated controversy and public debates. While the court found no evidence of malicious intent in their actions, the case raised questions about the role of party donations and the potential influence on politicians.
Both cases involve corruption and bribery allegations against high-ranking officials but have distinct characteristics and outcomes. “The Ostrich” case resulted in the conviction of Sevinger, highlighting the importance of transparency and integrity in governance. While each case has specific details and context, they contribute to the broader discourse on combating corruption and upholding public trust. These cases remind individuals of the legal consequences of engaging in corrupt activities. They also underscore the significance of impartial investigations, robust evidence, and fair judicial proceedings in determining guilt or innocence.
Moving forward, I hope that authorities continue promoting transparency, enforcing anti-corruption measures, and ensuring accountability among public officials. These endeavors are vital in maintaining the integrity of public institutions and safeguarding the trust placed in them by the citizens they serve. I also hope the general public takes a stand against corruption next time they vote. Somehow I still feel that the fanatics on both sides of the aisle will not let corruption charges or convictions change how they consistently vote and will continue to idolize politicians and their political parties that embrace illicit activities.
I do not share the opinion of the party loyalist. In my view, the acquittal in the De Mos case can’t be used to “whitewash” the conviction in the Ostrich.