Doubts about existence Italian court ruling: Link between Corallo and mafia still standsPOSTED: 02/17/14 2:17 PM
St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – There are serious doubts about the existence of a court ruling from the Italian Court of Appeals in Rome that supposedly forbids the Italian Minister of Home Affairs and the DIA – the Italian law enforcement agency that investigates the mafia – to link Atlantis World Group and BPlus owner Francesco Corallo to the mafia.
A press release BPlus Giocolegale Ltd. issued on February 10, stated, “the Italian court has ordered the publication of this ruling in the main Italian newspaper La Reppublica and the deletion of any relevant reference that the DIA police may have in their reports on this matter.”
Corallo’s lawyers said, according to the press release, that the ruling de facto prohibits anybody to refer to Corallo as “a subject close to, or part of, the mafia.” Rather threatening, the press release ended with the following line: “This may give start to several lawsuits towards a number of subjects who linked Corallo to the mafia in the past.”
However, when journalists at the Antilliaans Dagblad in Curacao contacted the Ufficio Stampa B Plus in Italy that handles media contacts for Corallo with a request for a copy of the original court ruling, they did not receive any reaction. Rudolf Baetsen, Corallo’s Chief financial officer at Atlantis in Cupecoy, also remained silent. When this newspaper approached Ufficio Stampa B Plus and Baetsen with a similar request, both parties opted not to react either.
Information this newspaper has received from sources in Italy suggest in the meantime that the verdict Corallo’s press agents refer to does not exist and that, instead, they have used a court ruling from 2011 to create the impression that there is a new court ruling in favor of Corallo. However, our sources say that Ufficio Stampa B Plus has made a “selective summary” of the 2011 verdict, whereby essential parts were omitted. The 2011-verdict orders, according to a report in the Antilliaans Dagblad, that the Ministry of Internal Affairs no longer links Corallo and his brother Carmelo Maurizio to the Santapaola-family and that La Reppublica had to publish the ruling.
In 2009, the DIA had linked Corallo to the Santapaola-family in a report about the mafia. Benedetto (Nitto) Santapaola is a prominent Mafioso from Catania who is currently serving several life sentences.
The Ministry of Home Affairs used the information from the DIA-report when Curacao’s former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte wanted to appoint Corallo to an unknown high function in his country. The ministry said that Corallo did not have a criminal record, but that, based on information from Italian intelligence services, he was involved in the international drugs trade, that he was an important man in the Sicilian mafia and that he used touristic activities in St. Maarten to launder money, after his father /Giuseppe was arrested there.
In December, B Plus sent out a press release claiming that Corallo was not guilty of making false statements about his position as (goodwill) ambassador of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization FAO for the Republic of Dominica. But the claim of this ambassadorship, let alone the claim to diplomatic immunity, is false. When this newspaper approached the FAO in 2012 about this issue, the FAO responded that it has never heard of Corallo, that he was not an ambassador for the FAO and – by the way – that the position of goodwill ambassador does give anyone diplomatic immunity.