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Once more, the $19.5 million

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Volk betaald voor rommelende autoriteiten

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The Public Prosecution Service has once again filed a cassation appeal against the ruling of the Amsterdam Court of Appeal from January 10, 2010, which has undoubtedly disappointed the owners of the $19.5 million. The Public Prosecution Service allowed too much time to pass between the seizure and the filing of the case in court, which led the Court of Appeal to rule in that judgment that the money should be returned.

The Supreme Court had referred the matter to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal for further resolution when it reached its decision. This referral was made following the HR’s decision about a crucial opening query, namely: Who is the owner of the sum of $19.5 million? The Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS), the government-run bank, is the rightful owner of the funds, according to the Haarlem court, which also determined that (state) immunity prevented the funds’ confiscation in accordance with customary international law.

Because the court itself had determined that “the commercial banks were and remained entitled” to the money that had been seized and that the CBvS only played a “facilitating role” in the commercial banks’ intended conversion of the money, the Supreme Court referred to the Haarlem court’s decision as “not understandable” in its ruling from July 6, 2021.

There can be no discussion of state immunity in this case because the associated monies are not considered to be “property” of the CBvS. The ruling of the District Court of Haarlem is then set aside, and the case is then sent to the Amsterdam Court of Appeal.

The Court of Amsterdam should have resolved the dispute in light of the HR’s ruling about the ownership of the funds, but it chose to proceed in a different manner. The Public Prosecution Service reintroducing cassation was therefore expected. However, given the length of time the case has been dragged out, it is preferable from the perspective of the crucial global fight against cross-border corruption that the HR not refer the issue back to another Court, but rather takes it in and decides it on its own.

André Haakmat







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