Casino boss no longer under house arrest in Italy: Corallo’s Bplus up for sale

POSTED: 11/20/13 6:23 PM

St. Maarten / By Hilbert Haar – Francesco Corallo, the beneficial owner of the Atlantis World Group and the Italian company Giocolegale Bplus, has been under house arrest in Italy until October 14 after he voluntarily returned to the country on August 4 to speak with the authorities about his legal troubles.

An article published in the Italian online newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano from August of this year suggested that Corallo was still kept under house arrest but according to his attorney in St. Maarten, Jeroen Veen, this is no longer the case. “Corallo is a free man. His house arrest was lifted on October 14.”

Veen said that he is aware of the accusations towards Corallo about the Banco Popolare di Milano (BPM). “As far as I know Corallo has never been indicted in this case or in any other case, let alone that he has been convicted. The BPM-investigation has until now not resulted in a single indictment or summons. It is unclear to me what the status of that case is, or that there even is a case.”

Il Fatto Quotidiano furthermore reported that the Italian authorities have settled the huge fines if they had imposed on the concessionaires for video lottery machines. While the story in the Italian publication suggests that this only concerns Bplus, and therefor Corallo, Veen says that all concessionaires in Italy were fined and that the state has now settled for 25 percent. “The fines were the result of a dispute about the payment of taxes on games of change that the concessionaires collect for the state. The problem itself has been solved a long time ago.”

Veen said that the Italian Supreme Court in civil cases considered the fines incorrect, while an administrative bureau disagreed with this opinion. “All Italian concessionaires received such fines because the problem was the same for all companies. Recently every concessionaire has been offered the option to pay these fines with a reduction on the condition that they cease legal procedures about the legality of the fines. This does not have a criminal aspect and it does not have anything to do with the sale of Bplus.”

Il Fatto Quotidiano furthermore reported that two companies have shown interest in buying Bplus. The Spanish multinational Codere offers €420 million ($567 million) according to the newspaper, while the British investment firm Easton Gate offered €500 million ($675 million). Corallo would walk away with €200 million ($270 million) from the deal, but these reports have not been confirmed.

Attorney Jeroen Veen: “There is serious interest in the purchase of Bplus. Whether this will lead to a sale is for a transaction of this magnitude dependent on many circumstances and conditions. At the moment it is too early to say anything about it.”

Bplus is a normal company with many enthusiast employees that have been working for years for it, Veen says. “The company is, just like other concessionaires, under strict control of the Italian government, especially because it does such important services for the government.”

The Bplus Trust that Il Fatto Quotidiano reported about is a trust that manages the shares of Bplus with the consent of the Italian authorities. The Italian newspaper identified Veen as the trustee of this entity. “The Italian authorities preferred this structure and Bplus has fully cooperated,” Veen concludes.

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