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 slot machines. Francesco Corallo – gambling boss of the island of St. Maarten – 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 for non-payment of taxes on his gambling revenues between 2004 and 2007, adding up to hundreds of millions of euros. Nonetheless, he got this new contract; even worse, one of his advisors drafted the text of the new law to regulate the slots. Corallo also would have channelled almost four million euros to Gianfranco Finni, at that time the number two of Berlusconi’s party. 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 obligation to make sure customers aren’t criminals and that payments don’t result in fraud or corruption. Fortis Bank kept on being Francesco Corallo’s 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 made many more notable payments using the Fortis Bank.
I have asked the Dutch 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’ auditor was KPMG Netherlands. I have previously asked for clarification on the role of KPMG in the illegal gambling industry in the former Netherlands Antilles. KPMG Netherlands always referred to its colleagues at KPMG Dutch Caribbean. In this affair with the Fortis Bank it is no longer possible for KPMG to avert responsibility. It needs to be accountable.
What is going to be the role of the elections in Curaçao? How is Francesco Corallo doing in the meantime? He was arrested in December on St. Maarten and is awaiting extradition to Italy. Curaçao and St. Maarten are further investigating this matter and more people have been arrested.
This investigation started on the initiative of VVD Member of Parliament (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. Maarten and Curaçao, including former Curaçao Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte. Schotte has been sentenced to three years in prison; however, he can still participate in the Curaçao elections on April 28 and he could get back into power.
This threatens this beautiful island in our Kingdom into becoming a mafia state. As MP I will continue to fight against corruption and dirty money on the islands in the coming years, and against banks and accountants who make this possible.
Ronald van Raak,
Member of the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament for the Socialist Party