Telegraaf about change of government: “Mafia tightens grip”

POSTED: 05/10/13 1:44 PM

Heyliger and Corallo

UP-leader Theo Heyliger (l) in the company of casino-boss Francesco Corallo (with glasses) and his poker room manager Pepe on April 30, 2012 at the Waikiki Beach bar in Orient Bay on the French side of the island, less than 40 hours after the fall of the first Wescot-Williams cabinet.

St. Maarten – While Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams and the eight members of the new majority in parliament hammered on the constitutionality of their decision to overthrow the government, the Telegraaf in the Netherlands published an article under the headline “Island mafia tightens grip.”

The newspapers front page has a picture taken in April 30 of last year showing UP-leader Theo Heyliger in the company of casino-boss Francesco Corallo and his poker room manager Pepe. This newspaper possesses a copy of this photo and published it on August 3 of last year.

The Telegraaf wrote on Wednesday that “according to strong rumors” Heyliger maintains close ties with Corallo and that the latter finances his party. For good measure the newspaper adds that the Intelligence Service in Curacao described Corallo as “an Italian mafia boss and a financer of former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte in Curacao.”

“Due to the cabinet’s fall the controversial Justice Minister Duncan disappears but it is the question whether this helps St. Maarten forward,” the paper observes.

On page 3, VVD-MP Andre Bosman warns the Rutte-cabinet that the mafia uses the fall of the government to tighten its grip on the island.”

Bosman says that the UP-leader is forming a majority with the Democratic Party of Prime Minister Wescot-Williams “in exchange for a couple of ministerial posts.”

The liberal MP is furthermore quoted as saying that Heyliger is pulling a lot of strings. “There are ties between him and the underworld that must give the cabinet a lot of reasons for concern.”

He labels the picture of Heyliger with Corallo “extremely worrisome.”

Telegraaf journalists Bart Olmer and Alex de Vries base the rest of their story on “strong rumors” whereby they suggest that Corallo has a say in the formation of the new cabinet. They furthermore wrote that Wescot-Williams met with Kingdom Relations Minister Ronald Plasterk last week and that Plasterk “according to reliable sources” had indicated that the controversial position of her Justice Minister Roland Duncan “seriously complicated” the mutual relationship.

According to Bosman the departure of Duncan does not solve the persistent problem of corruption in St. Maarten “Plasterk is only buying a bit of time this way. I hope that Duncan can be prosecuted a bit faster now.”

Olmer and De Vries wrote that Duncan is involved in bribery and fraud without substantiating this observation. Duncan’s name has been mentioned on the Bada Bing bribery tape but he has only been heard by the National Detective Agency as a witness, not as a suspect.

Bosman calls for a thorough screening of the new ministers in the government of St. Maarten. Olmer and De Vries note at the end of their article that Heyliger is a grandson of Claude Wathey “who was accused by the Public Prosecutor’s Office in 1994 of corruption and fraud and of membership of a criminal organization. He was sentenced to one year imprisonment for perjury.”



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