Suriname Police in Fraud Probe at Ministry of Finance

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Suriname has been rocked by a major fraud scandal in which millions of dollars (One SR$=US$0.04 cents) have been withdrawn from the bank account of the Ministry of Finance and Planning through forged documents and receipts.

The authorities said a total of SRD$40.9 million was withdrawn from the account in April and June with the perpetrators presenting false documents to the Central Bank of Suriname (CBS) for cash..

The government confirmed the withdrawal after opposition legislator, Melvin Bouva of the National Democratic Party (NDP) headed by former president, Desi Bouterse, raised the issue in Parliament last week.

A criminal investigation has since been launched and the bank accounts of persons and companies to which the stolen funds had been transferred have been seized.

Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspects have, among other things, purchased expensive vehicles and laundered a large part of the money through various companies.

The Ministry of Finance and Planning said on June 27 this year a falsified payment order worth SRD$20 million was presented to the CBS.

“This came to light on June 28 and the order was immediately blocked. The Central Bank subsequently indicated that two other falsified payment orders had previously been presented for the same person. These transfers had been carried out,” the ministry said in a statement, noting that the withdrawals were SR$14 million on April 25 and SR$26.9 million on June 14.

But Bouva told Parliament that between SR$500 million and SR$900 million had been stolen, but government has denied the figures put out by the opposition legislator.

Meanwhile, there are calls for the resignation of the Finance Minister Armand Achaibersing, but President Chandrikapersad Santokhi says he sees no reasons for the minister to resign or be fired.

Santokhi told journalists that immediately after the fraud had been discovered, the ministry filed a report, and the police started the investigation. He said he is waiting for the results of the investigation.

“The investigation must show who is responsible,” said President Santokhi, said, defending Achaibersing “because there is no ongoing investigation against the minister”.

Police have since interviewed several individuals including two employees of the Ministry of Finance, with some of those persons likely to be regarded officially as suspects.



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