Opinion: Corallo

POSTED: 06/4/12 1:56 PM

The press release issued this weekend by the attorney for Atlantis-Betplus owner Francesco Corallo sheds a new light on the investigation in Milan that resulted in house arrest for a former banker and one other man and for labeling Corallo as a fugitive.
Behind the scenes there is apparently a relentless fight going on about the concession Betplus holds in Italy. Without any in depth information about then investigation itself – we only have the report from the Reuters press agency and reports in Italian media to go by – it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction in this story.
Unfortunately for Corallo, the stories that have come to light over the past couple of years about his (alleged) involvement in less than straightforward deals do not exactly increase people’s willingness to give him at least the benefit of the doubt. The best we are able to do at this moment is to present our readers with both sides of the story.
The prosecutors in Milan charge, simply put, that the former director of the Banca Popolare di Milan cut a few corners to accommodate the contested loan to Atlantis-Betplus. In the process, the prosecutors argue, this former banker, Massimo Ponzellini, pocketed about $7 million in kickbacks.
Corallo’s story is different. First of all, Reuters reported that the loan was worth €148 million – at the time the equivalent of $200 million, but these days with the crumbling euro a lot less. Corallo says that the loan was for €105 million, that no rules were broken and that the loan is in good standing – meaning that the company is paying it off according to an agreed upon schedule.
Corallo’s attorney also points out that the dispute does not fall under the criminal code, but under the civil code. All the same, if the violation of this article can be proven (basically: whether bribes have been offered in exchange for granting the loan) it carries a maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment. In other words, it’s not like somebody got murdered or anything like that, but still, bribing a banker is crossing a line.
However, the way things go with prosecuting high profile Italians (Corallo, by the way, stated in his press release that he is not an Italian citizen, without indicating whether he is then maybe a citizen of, say, Guatemala or Dominica) this case could very well drag on for years if not decades before something, if anything, comes of it. In the meantime, the charges hang like a cloud of suspicion over the heads of those who are involved in the investigation.
For the moment, we’ll take Corallo’s press statement at face value and we are looking forward to future developments in the investigation.

Did you like this? Share it:
Opinion: Corallo by

Comments are closed.