Money launderers sentenced; Court rejects deal

ZWOLLE - For the laundering of $ 322 million in Curaçao and in the Netherlands, two brothers were sentenced by the court in Zwolle to 5 and 6 years in prison. With the verdict, the court completely denounces the Public Prosecution Service (OM), which demanded much lighter penalties against them.

The brothers Omer Grynsztein (45) and Itzhak Grynsztein (53) were engaged in "dollar tourism" from Venezuela. Venezuelans bought goods on paper from the family's businesses, but in reality they received American dollars in cash on Curaçao.

The dollars were laundered in the lingerie shops of the Grynsztein family in Curaçao. Thousands of Venezuelans, forced by the collapsing economy in their own country, came to exchange their worthless bolivars in the neighboring Antilles for sturdy dollars. They used "dollar credit cards" specially facilitated by their government in Caracas for specific purchases during trips abroad.

The Venezuelans get a very favorable dollar rate on these credit cards. With these credit cards they pound dollars en masse in the stores of Grynsztein, who mentioned on the receipts that medicines or lingerie for the dollars were purchased, since that is checked in Caracas.

The same dollars were then traded on the black market at extortionate prices in Venezuela, where trade in foreign currencies was curbed.

In 2015, the brothers were enthralled by a large-scale police action. The two made a deal with the judiciary last spring: reduction of sentences in exchange for openness.

After their confessional statements, last July the Public Prosecutor demanded 3 years in jail against Itzhak Grynsztein, more than 2 years in jail, and against Omer Grynsztein 2 years in jail of which 45 days unconditionally. For example, the OM dropped the accusation of participating in a criminal organization as part of the agreement with the defense. But the Zwolle court does not care about these agreements and condemns the two Wednesday afternoon to years of unconditional prison sentences.

According to the court, this agreement is at odds with the purpose of punishing such facts. "The most important point is that the proposed penalties in no way do justice to the nature and seriousness of the facts," according to the court. It must also be avoided that there appears to be "class justice". After all, the brothers did not live in poverty. For the laundering of hundreds of millions of dollars, the imprisonment now imposed is appropriate, according to the court, and not the much lower demands. For example, in the case of money laundering of amounts above one million euros, national courts have already used the 2-year cell as a lower limit.

ING Bank reached a settlement of 775 million euros last year, among other things for the poor control of the PIN activities of the Gs, which ran part of their activities through ING accounts.

In response to the verdict, the OM states that it is satisfied that the court has followed the prosecutor in proving the facts, but nevertheless announces an appeal. "Due to the issue of litigation agreements made in this case, it is likely that the OM will appeal to have the Court take a decision on this," said a spokeswoman for the Functional Prosecutor's Office.

At the beginning of this year, the Dutch Minister of Justice Grapperhaus called the Public Prosecution Service's plan to negotiate with suspects and thus speed up criminal proceedings "very interesting."

Willem Koops, lawyer at Itzhak Grynsztein, states in response to the ruling that the legislation needs to be modernized. "This is a further demonstration of this judgment. The court itself finds in the ruling that there is no legal basis for reviewing the agreement that the Public Prosecution Service concluded with suspects,” said Koops.

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