Published On: Tue, Mar 21st, 2017

State Bank Fortis involved in bribery Italian politicians

Ronal van RaakThere's no control on the criminal activities of mafia boss Francesco Corallo

Prime Minister Berlusconi came up with a remarkable plan, after the ancient town of L'Aquila was hit by a major earthquake in 2009. He wanted to pay the hundreds of millions needed for the recovery by issuing out additional slots. Francesco Corallo – gambling boss of the island of Saint Martin - gave Berlusconi a big gambling contract. Corallo already owned tens of thousands slot machines in Italy, with a turnover of billions of euros. Corallo was also sought in Italy, because he wouldn't have paid taxes for his gambling winnings between 2004 and 2007, adding up to hundreds of millions. Nevertheless, he got this new contract. Even worse: one of his advisors drafted the text of the new law on the issue of the slots. Corallo also would've channeled almost four million to Gianfranco Finni, at that time the number two of the party of Berlusconi. The banker of Corallo is Fortis Bank, a bank which was bought by the Dutch government in 2008 - in connection with the banking crisis.

What is KPMG's role this time?

Banks have a legal duty to make sure customers aren't criminals and that payments don't result in fraud or corruption. Fortis Bank kept on being Francesco Corallos banker, even though he was wanted for bribery and tax evasion. His operations were not checked by Fortis Bank, not even after it became a state bank. In these years Corallo has done much more notable payments using Fortis Bank. I have asked the Minister of Finance to research the actions of the state bank. Also noteworthy is the role of auditors. Corallo's auditor was KPMG Dutch Caribbean, Fortis's auditor was KPMG Netherlands. I have previously asked for clarification on the role of KPMG in the illegal gambling industry on the Antilles. KPMG Netherlands always referred to her colleagues at KPMG Dutch Caribbean. In this affair with the Fortis Bank it's no longer possible for KPMG to avert responsibility. It needs to be accountable.

What is going to be the role of the elections in Curacao?

But how is Francesco Corallo doing in the meantime? He was arrested in December on Saint Martin and is waiting to be extradited to Italy. Curacao and Saint Martin are currently investigating further and more people got arrested. This research started on the initiative of VVD MP André Bosman and myself. The islands are working in close cooperation with the United States and Italy: both have a special interest in Francesco Corallo - who is of Sicilian descent. Corallo didn't only buy politicians in Italy, he also bribed politicians in St. Martin and Curacao, including former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte. Schotte previously got sentenced to three years in prison. However, he can still participate in the Curacao elections on April the 28th  and could get back into power. This threatens this beautiful island in our Kingdom into become a mafia state. As MP I will continue to fight against corruption and dirty money on the island in the coming years. And against banks and accountants who make this possible.

By Ronald van Raak

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