Amsterdam coin minter busted

no image
No image availableNL Times

AMSTERDAM—An Amsterdam based minter, arrested by police last week, was apparently living the high life while ducking from creditors, and reneging on promises he was making to clients. “Patrick O. always dined in the finest restaurants and liked to be around beautiful women,” a North Holland website says, quoting a source. But it seems there was a dark side to the minter that eventually landed him in jail last week, and now his big clients, including the Central Bank of Suriname CBvS, are beginning to jump ship.

O. was taken into custody with his business partner on November 7th following a raid of their company, European Central Mint (ECM), by the Fiscal Information and Investigation Service FIOD. ECM did business with pension funds and investors, and O. had a deal with the CBvS to produce gold bullion. The Amsterdam West offices of ECM were closed down following the raid. Armed police officers were spotted keeping guard while FIOD agents gutted the minting factory.

No immediate reason was given for the arrest, but sources claim it was for fraud. To boot, the internet is rife with complaints and suspicions about the 49-year-old entrepreneur who had amassed an impressive international clientele since he opened the minting factory in 2008. Some questioned how he was able to afford his expensive lifestyle plus a second office building in Germany. Reports are that O. had not been paying his bills and used false addresses. Apparently two other businesses he owned went under the hammer earlier this year.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Gilmore Hoefdraad, the Governor of Suriname’s Central Bank, distanced his institution from the ECM. Hoefdraad said that the Central Bank had already been in the process of nullifying its agreement with ECM prior to Onel’s arrest on November 7, because it had not been following through on what had been agreed upon.

ECM had a subsidiary in Suriname that was responsible for procuring the raw material for minting, including gold. ECM also minted a commemorative Surinamese coin that was available for purchase at 300 Surinamese dollars (SRD), just under €100. CBvS and ECM entered into the agreement in December 2011, and the first Surinamese minted coins, or bullions, were presented with much fanfare at the World Money Fair in Berlin, Germany in February 2012.

Hoefdraad said that by September that same year, CBvS had instructed its legal counsel to work toward terminating the agreement. Hoefdraad said the process was underway, but it seems Dutch authorities decided to dismantle O.’s business before CBvS was totally out.

Hoefdraad did not say how ECM’s closure affects the high expectations CBvS had of the bullion.