Corallo still awaits extradition to Italy

~ Corallo known as King of Slots in Italy ~

PHILIPSBURG–With the news of the arrest of millionaire Francesco Corallo in St. Maarten on December 13 traveling, international media outlets have been investigating and revealing several facts about the casino boss and his associates.

Gaming page reports that Corallo’s business interests include the Atlantis World Group, which operates casinos in St Maarten, Curaçao and the Dominican Republic. Corallo also controls Italy’s B Plus Gaming, which changed its name last year to Global Starnet Ltd, although B Plus remains the B2C brand.

B Plus operates video lottery terminals (VLTs) in Italy as well as numerous online gambling sites. B Plus received its Italian gaming licence in 2004 and eventually grew to account for nearly one-third of Italy’s total number of VLTs.

The suspects in this case were arrested on charges of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement. Besides Atlantis World Group Chief Financial Officer Rudolf Baetsen, former Italian legislator Amedeo Laboccetta was also arrested in Italy on December 13.

The website also reported that Corallo’s businesses were involved in complex financial manoeuvers intended to shield his gambling proceeds from Italian tax authorities. The indictment alleges that Corallo and his associates hid more than 250 million euros between 2004 and 2014 by funnelling the money through UK and Dutch bank accounts before transferring the funds to Caribbean companies.

Following the arrests, Global Starnet issued a statement saying the company has, since it began offering gaming in 2004, “always operated within the rules” and paid all taxes as required by law. The company also said it was business as usual at its gaming operations.

It is no secret that Italian authorities have been seeking the younger Corallo’s arrest as far back as 2012 over questionable bank loans that B Plus used to buy VLT licences from the Italian government. Corallo denied having bribed the BPM Bank to grant the loan and claimed B Plus was the country’s second largest taxpayer behind auto giant Fiat.

“The Italian authorities’ case may have been strengthened by the fact that Corallo’s name surfaced in the recent release of the so-called Panama Papers, which shone a light on the previously opaque dealings of the rich and powerful in the murky world of shell companies,” reported.

Meanwhile, Corallo is still waiting to be extradited to Italy; the paperwork has still not yet been finalised according to the Prosecutor’s Offices of Italy, the Netherlands and St. Maarten. The Anti-Corruption Unit of the Attorney General’s Office acted in line with this partnership as it relates to the arrests, searches and seizures.

The international cooperation between Italy, St. Maarten, French St. Martin and the Netherlands fits into the joint intensive approach to combat cross-border corruption and fraud also called “undermining crime.” Undermining crime, including corruption and money-laundering, poses a serious threat to the security and economy of the countries in the Caribbean part of the Dutch Kingdom, the Prosecutor’s Office recently announced.

The Anti-Corruption Unit of the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, the National Detective Agencies of Curaçao and St. Maarten and the Prosecutor’s Office are partners in the fight against undermining crime.

Source: The Daily Herald