Published On: Mon, Oct 30th, 2017

OM: “Tromp wanted to take his millions to Miami”

Emsley TrompWILLEMSTAD - President Emsley Tromp of the Central Bank of Curaçao and Sint Maarten (CBCS) planned to take his millions, which he kept hidden from the Treasury, to Miami. This is according to the Public Prosecution (OM) in the criminal proceedings against Tromp. The former Central Bank President is being accused of tax fraud.

Since 2002, he has knowingly been doing illegal transactions with his private pension fund, says the OM in its reply last Friday during the court case against Tromp.

The OM suspects the Central Bank President of scamming millions from the Treasury. Last week Thursday the OM demanded a maximum community service of 240 hours and a fine of 10 million guilders (about 5 million dollars) against Tromp. Tromp says he’s innocent and his lawyer asks for acquittal for his client.

Due to a change in legislation, since 2002 no private pensions with tax benefits can be accumulated in Curaçao in private foundations. Only business owners may, in their own right, as shareholders accumulate a pension provision with tax benefits. As a civil servant, Emsley Tromp is not allowed. His foundation does not meet the conditions for an authorized official pension insurer.

Tromp has tried since 1990 to get out of the mandatory system for all employees of the Central Bank at the civil servants' general pension fund. He managed to get this done. He had to take out his pension insurance at ING Fatum and thereafter at the Nationale Nederlanden. The Central Bank paid his pension premiums for him.

In 2007, Tromp bought his pension insurance from the Nationale Nederlanden. The accrued amount was paid. Nationale Nederlanden warned the Central Bank President that he had to pay income tax on the received tax-free amount. But Tromp transferred the amount to Bank of America in the US and kept it hidden from the Curaçao Treasury.

Tromp’s US bank account was registered under ET Pensioenen (Pensions), of which Tromp is chairman of the board. The CBCS continued to transfer Tromp's pension premiums to that US bank account, mentioning Tromp's insurance policy number at the Nationale Nederlanden.

CBCS employees assumed that the bank paid for Tromp's pension insurance at the Nationale Nederlanden. However, that was not the case. According to the CBCS, despite two searches conducted by police and justice, no document has been found that justifies the transfers to the ET pension foundation.

According to the OM, Tromp's suspicious pension provision came to light during the investigation into remarkable loans from Banco di Caribe to Tromps Foundation. Banco di Caribe is under the supervision of the CBCS. Tromp's retirement foundation also came into light due to its role in financing two expensive apartments for the Central Bank President in Miami.

The OM states that Tromp's foundation was just a cash pot in which he hid money from the Treasury. Tromp told investigators that he was planning to move to Miami. According to the OM, he was planning to enjoy the saved 8.5 million dollars out of sight of the tax collector.

The OM challenges the statement of the defense that it was wrong to not address the five opinions of tax experts. According to the defense they would all have said that the Tromp’s pension scheme is acceptable.

In their reply, the prosecutors say that tax experts are not at all as united as the defense makes it appear. One of the experts of the defense, Peter Kavelaars, for example, also notes that since 2002, the ET Pension Foundation has ceased to meet the legal requirements for a tax-free pension fund.

A so-called ruling of a 1994 tax inspector, which, according to the defense, shows that the tax collector agreed with the Tromp’s scheme, cannot bind the tax service forever, says Kavelaars. The ruling does not make any mention of the controversial foundation structure. Also, tax expert Gerry Dietvorst, who has been asked by the defense for an opinion, has concluded that Tromp's foundation construction is not acceptable.

The tax expert Evertsz, who has also been taken by the defense, "disqualifies himself" according to the OM. Evertsz gives an opinion on a letter he sent to Tromp in 1994 in his previous function as a tax inspector. In that letter, the tax authorities agree with the pension scheme of Tromp's foundation. But according to the OM, that letter does not say a word about the foundation.

In their reply, the defense says that it is apparently clear that the OM is trying to ruin Tromp’s image with a flow of defamatory comments. That is, according to Tromp's lawyer Niels van der Laan, contrary to the "presumption of innocence ".

After a possible move to Miami, Tromp also remains a taxpayer in Curaçao, the lawyer responds. The fact that they did not find any documentation about the CBCS's pension payments to the US account of ET Pension, does not prove that those documents are not there. “This may just mean that the administration of the Central Bank can be improved. A considerable amount of staff files have been shredded.”

In his last word, Tromp says: “Being publicly shamed, has really affected me. I have a pure conscience. I've always acted in honor and good conscience.” Tromp says to see the court's ruling with confidence.

The court’s ruling, in this case, is on Friday afternoon November 17.

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