Spies enlightens parliament; Schotte speaks of witch hunt – Italy refused to give Corallo statement of good behavior

POSTED: 10/12/12 1:28 PM

THE HAGUE / WILLEMSTAD – Ousted Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte lashed out at media about reports that he has ties with the Italian mafia, and that he attempted to get an statement about the behavior of Atlantis World Group and BPlus owner Francesco Corallo from Italian authorities. Kingdom Relations Minister Spies revealed in answers to questions from parliament that the Italian authorities refused to give Corallo a statement of good behavior.

Like Corallo, Schotte sent a statement to the media and he attached a copy of an August 3 fax to it. That fax does state that there is nothing against Corallo in the files of the Ministries of Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs in Italy. But Schotte did not provide a copy of the letter he received on May 26 from ambassador Fons Stoelinga.

Outgoing Kingdom Relations Minister Liesbeth Spies did not provide a copy of that letter either in her answers to questions from Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak, but her answer confirms what the Antilliaans Dagblad reported earlier: the Italian authorities did not want to issue a statement of good behavior for Corallo.

In her letter, Minister Spies confirms that Schotte approached the Italian Minister of Home Affairs without informing the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. “Mr. Schotte has been informed in high-level talks that he should not have acted in this way.”

The Dutch embassy in Rome was verbally informed by the Italian Ministry of Home Affairs that, “though there are no criminal convictions known of Mr. Corallo, there are still reasons not to issue the requested statement. The ambassador informed Mr. Schotte about this on May 26.”

On August 3 the Italian authorities informed the embassy in Rome that “in the documents of both the ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs nothing shows about Mr. Corallo.”

Spies notes that this fax had “a different tenor” than the earlier letter of May 26. The embassy in Rome sent a copy of the fax to the Directorate for Foreign Affairs in Curacao.

If the information that was available at the time had given reason to do so, it was in the first place up to the criminal authorities in Curacao to take action, Spies wrote.

The minister added that the interim-cabinet in Curacao is preparing a national ordinance for the screening of prospective ministers in the new government. Spies talked about this with Prime Minister Stanley Betrian on Wednesday. Yesterday the draft ordinance was submitted to parliament and Betrian has urged it to deal with it before October 18.

The ordinance regulates the investigation of criminal history, the national security, fiscal data including unusual transactions, medical fitness, including the use of drugs and more in general an investigation into the life of the candidates including side jobs.

“I am of the opinion that this way the interim-cabinet in Curacao has fulfilled the assignment it received from the parliament,” Spies wrote.

In his statement to the media, Schotte writes that he regrets that around his letter to the Italian Minister of Home Affairs “all kinds of rumors and accusations were launched” and that he appreciates to set matters straight “to end the witch hunt against him from the Netherlands and from certain media in Curacao.”

Schotte stated that he had asked for information about “the Italian citizen Corallo” last year. “Before an appointment it is always good to obtain factual and concrete information about people,” the statement reads. “That is the hallmark of good governance.”

Schotte then quotes the answer from the cabinet of the Italian Ministry of Home Affairs of August 3, but he makes no reference to the earlier reply from May 26.

“This correspondence shows that nothing illegal transpired. All insinuations in the media and expressed by Dutch parliamentarians are completely for their account,” Schotte’s statement continues. He regrets the tone of the reports and states that the witch hunt against him seems to be orchestrated by political opponents who want to take everything out of context to damage the good name of the MFK-leader and the first Prime Minister of Curacao.”

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