Category: Island Talk Created on Wednesday, 15 August 2012 06:36
Italian investor Francesco Corallo, who was appointed Dominica’s ambassador to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) by the Roosevelt Skerrit administration in June 2011, and who is also known to be the owner of the Atlantis Casino in Cupecoy and said to be the financier of several politicians on St Maarten, is now on INTERPOL’s most wanted list.
According to the international police organization, Corallo is wanted in Italy for organized and transnational crime and fraud.
Corallo is the holder of Dominica passport and one from Honduras while he is also a national of Italy, which is reportedly making it difficult for authorities to track down the wanted man.
According to SMN News St Maarten's Interpol division is looking for Corallo after being alerted to the international arrest warrant that is out for his arrest. St Maarten reportedly received notification of the arrest warrant issued by Italy some weeks ago but St Maarten police and Interpol division are not able to locate the businessman on St Maarten. Several of his employees said that Corallo disappeared from St Maarten about a month ago and they are not able to make contact with him by phone.
The Dominica Net states that to date there has been no response from the Dominica government who previously issued a public letter in support of their ambassador when reports of his wrong doing first surfaced.
According to The Dominica Net, the November 21, 2011 statement by the Dominica government noted that the appointment “was guided by standard policy as it relates to the selection of both nationals and non nationals willing to serve and represent Dominica in an honorary capacity, in honorary consulates, missions and trade and investment offices, in strategic capitals, or as non-resident ambassadors.”
Corallo’s office was raided by Italian police on November 10, 2011 in connection with an investigation of Ponzellini Massimo, president of Banca Popolare di Milano who is said to have been involved in a 148 million Euro loan to his Atlantis/Bet Plus in St Maarten.
In court papers filed by Corallo following his arrest, he revealed that he was granted a diplomatic passport by the government of Dominica and a letter of appointment as Dominica’s permanent representative to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) on June 11, 2011.
According to Corallo, "with regard to my appointment as Ambassador, I note that a request for approval "a priori" had been previously made to the Italian government with a note of June 30, 2011, which was followed later with a favorable response Note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on August 3, 2011.“
He continued “I had received from the Government of Dominica a regular diplomatic passport by virtue of a specific appointment as ambassador to the FAO of the said Government of Dominica on 21 June 2011. If the act of appointment is read literally I come appointed as "Ambassador Extraordinary". And I on the other hand under Article 13 of the Vienna Convention of 1961 had informed the FAO of my arrival in Italy.”
When the case came up for a hearing on July 21, 2012, Corallo was quoted in court papers as saying that "I was at the time of the raid, and still am, a diplomat of my country, as reflected by the acts of investigation. Another question, in law, is whether I could make use of Guarantees reserved for diplomats. But the question, objectively, does not arise. As is clear from the minutes of GdF (the Police) I have never opposed the raid.”
He went on to say that he chose not to invoke diplomatic immunity allowed under the Geneva conventions but permitted the police to continue with their investigation.
However, with the investigation gaining speed, Corallo disappeared from Italy prompting the authorities to seek INTERPOL’s help in securing his arrest.
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