|Schotte wanted to give Corallo ‘important position’|
|Monday, 8 October 2012 12:22|
WILLEMSTAD — In April/May last year former premier Gerrit Schotte (MFK) sent a letter to the minister of the Interior of Italy requesting a ‘note on the reputation’ of Francesco Corallo because he wanted to give him ‘a prestigious and important constitutional position’.
The minister, Roberto Maroni, replied that the head of the Cabinet of his ministry would personally contact ‘the diplomatic mission that maintains contact with your relations in Italy, in order to provide all necessary data’. From the reply through the Dutch ambassador in Rome, Fous Stoelinga, it appears that Corallo was never convicted, but he wasn’t actually innocent either. “Police investigation during the years 1995-1997 into Francesco Corallo revealed that this person was involved with international drug trade and that Francesco Corallo was an important person in the Sicilian mafia. After the arrest of his father, Francesco Corallo started a tourist center in St. Maarten which was used for money laundering. Both the Italian police and the Italian Intelligence Service confirmed this information, according to Stoelinga.
This took place before the arrest warrant from Italy for Corallo in May this year, followed by an international tracking order from Interpol on account of ‘organized crime/cross border crime and fraud’.
Press agency Reuters reported that the former chairman of Banca Popolare di Milano (BPM), Massimo Ponzellini, was arrested in connection with an investigation into loans by the bank. The Public Prosecutor in Milan suspects that huge loans were granted partly due to the forging of evaluation procedures at the bank and given in exchange for 5.7 million euros on bribes. Among other things it regards a loan of 148 million euros to gaming company Atlantis-BPplus from Corallo. There had also been an arrest warrant for a third person, Antonio Cannalire, who has interests in the gaming industry and is close with Ponzellini. Corallo is still a fugitive and hasn’t been seen on St. Maarten. He gave an interview last month to G3 Global Games and Gaming Magazine in which he defended himself and his company.
Nothing is said about which function Schotte had intended for Corallo nor what he meant exactly with ‘a note on the reputation that Mr. Corallo has’. Italy does work with a ‘certificato di buona condotta’ (similar to an evidence of good behavior) but that isn’t requested specifically in the letter. In any case, the Schotte-cabinet eventually hadn’t recommended Corallo nor appointed him in a position.
It’s remarkable though that earlier on the Schotte-cabinet had recommended an employee from Corallo, CEO of Atlantic Casino on St. Maarten, Rudolf Baetsen, as chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the Central Bank (CBCS). On this recommendation the Committee Inquiry Curaçao under command of Paul Rosenmöller wrote in their report of September 30th 2011: “The recommendation by the government of Curaçao of Mr. Baetsen for the position of chairman of the Board of Commissioners of the CBCS doesn’t fit in the profile for this position, to which the highest requirements should be made and thus created the impression that this recommendation was prompted by other motives. The chairmen of the coalition parties in the parliament requested the minister-president last April to cancel the recommendation partly in connection with the task of the Parliament to monitor the integrity of the CBCS.” On March 31st 2011 Baetsen declined the post owing to controversy around his candidature.
Corallo is apparently a business associate of Robbie dos Santos, the owner of Robbies Lottery. Dos Santos is a suspect in the Bientu-investigation; financer of the MFK, the party of former premier Schotte; and brother of former minister of Finance George ‘Jorge’ Jamaloodin and Amparo dos Santos, who is seated in several Boards of Commissioners for Pueblo Soberano.