Bada Bing owner guilty of bribery, tax evasion, trafficking of women

PHILIPSBURG--The Court of First Instance convicted Bada Bing owner Jaap van den Heuvel (49) Friday to 42 months, twelve of which were suspended, on two years' probation.
He was found guilty of bribery of former independent Member of Parliament Patrick Illidge, and of money-laundering, tax evasion, trafficking of women and forgery of a commercial lease agreement.
Van den Heuvel was not present to hear the Court's decision in his case, as he is currently residing in the Netherlands.
Third suspect in the so-called Orca investigations, Bada Bing manager Krijn van der Brug (41) was sentenced to nine months suspended on two years' probation and 240 hours of community service for involvement in the trafficking of women.
Van den Heuvel's company Lunteren NV was ordered to pay NAf. 1.5 million in fines for tax evasion, money-laundering and trafficking of women.
The Prosecutor's Office had requested 48 months for the night club owner, payment of a NAf. 1 million fine, and nine months suspended and 180 hours of community service for the night club manager.
Together with Illidge, Van den Heuvel was the main suspect in the bribery case (see related story). Charges of membership in a criminal organization were dropped.
Van den Heuvel was acquitted of involvement in the trafficking of two women, but the Court found the cases involving three other women proven. In these cases, the Court said the women had felt compelled to work in St. Maarten due to their poor living conditions and lack of opportunities to make a living in the Dominican Republic.
Once in St. Maarten, the women were confronted with debts, while they were only allowed to work at Bada Bing. In case they decided to leave the club they would immediately be reported to the Naturalisation and Immigration Service.
The women did not receive a fixed salary, but were forced to work six days per week and stay at Bada Bing from 5:00pm. They had no choice but to share a room and beds with two or three other women at the club, against payment of a "hefty" daily US $60 fee.
Considering these circumstances, the Court found it proven that Lunteren NV, the company director and manager had abused the vulnerable position of these women and had exploited them, under Van den Heuvel's leadership.
During the three-day hearings in this case, Van den Heuvel's legal defence team had provided a big stack of paperwork and four hours of pleadings in their efforts to seek the acquittal of the night club owner.
However, none of the arguments, which according to the lawyers should have led to the Prosecutor's case against Van den Heuvel to be declared inadmissible, were accepted by the Court.
Attorney Cor Merx said after the verdict that the possibilities of filing for appeal would be taken into consideration.
Van der Brug's lawyer Geert Hatzmann, who had also pleaded for an acquittal, was more outspoken and announced that his client would "definitely" launch an appeal.
The Prosecutor's Office, by contrast, was "very pleased" with the Court's decisions. "The Court has made very well-motivated decisions, which the Prosecutor's Office may use in future investigations," said spokesperson Tineke Kamps.
The Prosecutor specifically mentioned the Court's reasoning concerning the abuse of the vulnerable position of the women in Bada Bing's employment and that it had been found proven that these women were exploited.
Kamps said the Prosecutor's Office had no immediate reason to file for appeal, but still had two weeks' time to make such decision.
The Daily Herald
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In this case Jaap van den Heuvel is represented by attorney Cor Merx of Cor Merx Legal Services and tax lawyer Gert Bergman of BZSE Attorneys at Law l Tax Lawyers Sint Maarten. 
Patrick Illidge is represented by attorney at law Ralph Richardson of Richardson & Nicolaas and tax lawyer Erik Jansen of BZSE Attorneys at Law l Tax Lawyers.
Krijn van der Brug is represented by lawyer Geert Hatzmann of Bermon Law Office.
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