Not everything that shines is (a) gold (tooth).

Not everything that shines is (a) gold (tooth).


Welcome, readers, to your LEGAL column, where I discuss various legal topics and sometimes combine certain legal aspects with more general ones affecting our community.  In this week’s column, I will discuss a recent decision from the Court of First Instance of Aruba. The decision caught my attention because it involved a former member of parliament and a former police detective that was prosecuted and convicted for embezzlement of public funds. 

As far as I know, this is the first time an acting member of the Parliament of Aruba was convicted for crimes committed while in office. This conviction has shocked many. Certainly, not a good thing for our country. I was intrigued to read the 28-page decision and analyze how this person entrusted with such an important public function embezzled public funds. Unless the decision is overturned, he must go to jail for up to two years  (24 months).  

In this week’s column, I will take you through the case details and shed light on the legal process that led to the conviction. I hope sharing this case will encourage others to follow the straight and narrow path and avoid falling into similar legal pitfalls. So, let’s dive into the matter and explore the legal implications together.

What happened?

The case involves a member of parliament of the political party Hunto Nos Por (“POR”). His name Alvin Alfonso Howell a.k.a. Alan Howell a.k.a. Gold Tooth. 


POR was represented in parliament with two seats. Because of this, the caucus (fractie) of POR qualified to receive financial support from the government. These funds are meant to aid and assist the POR caucus. Each caucus forms a special purpose foundation, which gets funds from the government. The regulation for supporting factions in the Parliament of Aruba is established in the Regeling ondersteuning fracties in de Staten van Aruba. This regulation provides financial support to the caucuses in Parliament. It is primarily intended to pay for assistants for the caucus members, enabling them to carry out their work effectively. The regulation determines, among other things, the amount of financial support to each. In the case of POR, Hunto Nos Por Foundation was formed for this purpose. The board of the foundation consisted of two members. Alan Howel was president, and J. van Putten was treasurer. The public funds that the POR caucus was entitled to were transferred to the bank account of Hunto Nos Por Foundation. So far, so good, business as usual, but…..

It was discovered that significant amounts of money from the foundation’s account, which were supposed to be paid to third parties for work performed or to be performed for the Hunto Nos Por Foundation, were not paid to the intended parties. Instead, the money was deposited into Howell’s personal bank account or withdrawn in cash by Howell or Van Pullen from the foundation’s account and paid out to Howell.

Howell’s explanation

From the court’s decision, we learn that the Hunto Nos Por Foundation would transfer money to pay certain foundation vendors to the personal account of Howell, with the intent to use this money to pay various vendors in cash. 

Somehow, Howell kept the money from the Hunto Nos Por Foundation. He alleges that he was entitled to keep the money because he had previously advanced the money to the foundation by paying certain vendors from his pocket. 


The logical question is, of course, why the Hunto Nos Por Foundation used this rather unusual way of cash handling. It would make more sense for the Foundation to pay each vendor directly, preferably via a bank transfer, each time an invoice was due. Why create this extra administrative step and use cash in an era where we increasingly operate cashless? Read on and find out.

The prosecutor, 

The prosecutor, argued that there was insufficient evidence to prove that the suspect paid the money to the intended vendors and claimed that Howell kept the money for himself, which amounts to illegal appropriation. According to the prosecutor, some vendors were non-existent, and fake invoices were used. Some invoices appeared to be legitimate, but the invoice remained unpaid. These are all grave accusations. That would mean that Howell would have deliberately taken money out of the Foundation’s bank account to enrich himself instead of using the money to support the caucus. If that is the case, we can all agree that that is not cool.

Ghost entities

The third parties involved were Fonso Advisory (Afl. 68,050), Blue is Love Foundation (Afl. 18,000), and media company E-Arubiano (Afl. 109,750). In addition, at the request of the suspect, Afl. 1,604 was paid out to Whooz Next Rijschool, the driving school of the suspect’s wife. In total, the suspect received Afl. 197,404.

Neither the prosecution nor the court could find any evidence that:

  • Fonso Advisory; or
  • Blue is Love Foundation

existed. The only person linked to Fonso Avisory was the late father of Howell, who wasn’t a lawyer nor jurist, but based on the invoices he provided legal advice or services…

Fake, fake, fake

In other words, these were fake companies. He fabricated fake invoices, and he used those fake invoices to get money transferred from the Foundation to his personal account. He could not transfer monies to the bank accounts of Fonso Advisory, or Blue is Love Foundation because fake companies can’t open bank accounts. So, where did the money go? According to the court decision, to his pocket or for his benefit.


I understand Howell appealed the decision. He is entitled to do so like any other suspect, but unless the defense can make the fake advisory company and the fake foundation come to life and produce financial statements, I think he will have a hard time overturning the decision. Meanwhile, we, the people, the voters, will have to count on the decision from the court to conclude that Howell embezzles public funds and is not worthy of holding any public office.


I am curious to see what the tax department will do with this decision. After all, based on this decision, Howell should have reported an additional Afl. 197,404 in his annual income tax filings. If he has not done so, he can add tax evasion to the list of charges.


For our country’s sake, I hope that something like this never happens again. We deserve better; we deserve better politicians. 

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