Conviction of former Aruban minister for corruption charges upheld by the Supreme Court February 7th, 2023

Conviction of former Aruban minister for corruption charges upheld by the Supreme Court February 7th, 2023

The sentence of the former Minister of Social Affairs, Youth Policy and Labor of Aruba for, among other things, official bribery, complicity in embezzlement, and money laundering remains upheld. That is what the Supreme Court ruled today.

The case

The suspect, in this case, was a Minister from October 2013 to the end of March 2017. The Common Court of Appeals found him guilty of corruption committed in an official capacity. The corruption consisted, among other things, of granting exemptions from work permits in exchange for financial gain (“pay to play”). Bribes paid to the suspect went through a foundation set up to fund the suspect’s political campaign financing. The Court sentenced the accused to three years imprisonment and disqualification from holding public for eight years. The defendant appealed against this judgment to the Supreme Court.

Advice Advocate General (AG)

The AG believed that the grounds for the appeal at the Supreme Court would not lead to an overturn of the decision and advised the Supreme Court to uphold the conviction.

Judgment Supreme Court

Section 476 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of Aruba states that if a minister is suspected of criminal offenses, the powers of the Public Prosecution (OM) are exercised by the Prosecutor General (“PG”). The PG may also designate these powers to other members of the OM. The Court of Appeal ruled that such a designation had taken place. The Supreme Court considered this judgment of the Court of Appeal to be legally correct and rejected the appeal.

The other appeal

An appeal in a related case was also denied. The co-defendant was convicted for her role as an intermediary to corruption. She was given a suspended four-month prison sentence and 150 hours of community service. The Supreme Court also upheld this conviction.

First time

This is the first time a Minister of Aruba has been found guilty of corruption (related) conduct while in office. A former minister of Infrastructure in Aruba is awaiting the outcome of a similar criminal case in which he is also accused of corruption. Both ministers were part of the cabinet of prime-minister Mike Eman of the political party AVP. Eman is now a member of the Parliament of Aruba.

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