Silvio Matser’s tax appeal now set for December 13

PHILIPSBURG--United St. Maarten Party (US Party) Member of Parliament (MP) elect and local businessman Silvio Matser’s appeal against his tax-fraud conviction was postponed again on Thursday. A new date for the appeal hearing was tentatively set for December 13.
Parties involved in the appeal met in Court for a brief session on Thursday afternoon, but the politician was not present. He was represented by his attorney Cor Merx and tax lawyer Eric Jansen.
The Court of First Instance sentenced Matser on January 7, to 24 months, 18 of which were suspended with three years’ probation and 240 hours of community service. His now defunct company, Energizer N.V., was ordered to pay NAf. 4.5 million in back taxes for the Porto Cupecoy project.
The Prosecutor’s Office had requested a sentence of 24 months in prison, eight of which were to be suspended with two years’ probation and payment of a NAf. 4.5 million fine. Only Matser appealed the sentence.
The 48-year-old MP and company director was convicted of tax evasion in having filed incorrect tax-return forms for the payment of wage taxes; incorrect contributions to workers’ social insurance AOV, AWW and ABVZ premiums over the fiscal years 2006 through 2010, and of failure to pay turnover tax for 2006.
   Matser’s appeal was scheduled to be heard on Thursday, but during the brief, 30-minute sitting it emerged that two witnesses for the defence still needed be heard by an Investigating Judge.
One of these witnesses is a tax inspector, who in the meantime has moved to the Netherlands. The inspector has already been questioned, by letter and during a video conference, but as the matter at hand is very specific and detailed additional questions the matter at hand required more elucidation, lawyer Jansen explained to the Court.
The defence also wants to question the former director of construction company Noframar in French St. Martin. Matser maintains that Noframar was the principal contractor at the Porto Cupecoy building site, whereas his company Energizer N.V. was only a subcontractor. Therefore, it is Matser’s position that he was not responsible for paying wage taxes and workers’ contributions but Noframar.
The director in question is, however, no longer residing in French St. Martin, but has since moved to Barbados. This has not made it any easier to hear him as a witness, because legal officials here cannot operate in the jurisdiction of another country.
Possibilities to hear the man via video-conferencing will be looked into, as well as into seeking the legal assistance of the authorities in Barbados, it was agreed.
The Daily Herald

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