Francesco Corallo claimed he was an ambassador for Dominica

A man at the center of a financial scandal in Italy appeared to have falsely claimed to be a permanent ambassador for the Commonwealth of Dominica.

Reports coming out of the Italian press indicate that Italy’s Guardia di Finanza (the financial unit of the tax police in Rome) is presently investigating a questionable US $200 million loan from the Roman Banca Popolare to gaming giant Atlantis/Betplus.

Reports indicate that on  November 10 the Guardia di Finanza raided private homes and nine company headquarters in Rome, Milan and Bologna. The home and office of Francesco Corallo, described in Italian media as Atlantis’ beneficial owner, were among the targets.

However when Corallo’s home and offices in Rome were raided, he clamed diplomatic immunity on the grounds that he is an ambassador to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for the Commonwealth of Dominica.

But the FAO office in Rome declared it did not know Corallo. In a statement to the Italian press the FAO said Corallo “is not the organization’s permanent ambassador for the Commonwealth of Dominica.”

The matter took another twist when Atlantis/Betplus released a press statement to the Italian media saying Corallo had given up his immunity status to cooperate with investigators, directly contradicting the FAO statement.

The company claimed that the Government of Dominica designated Corallo their ambassador to the FAO in a letter dated June 21, 2011 and he notified the FAO of his arrival in Italy in a letter dated September 21. However, this information now turned out to be incorrect.

To make matters worst the Italian press reports the Italian Foreign Ministry said that Corallo could not have been a FAO ambassador because he is conducting economic activities in Italy and it would be “inappropriate for someone with business interests in our country to enjoy diplomatic immunity.”

Dominica News Online will be seeking information from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on this matter and will bring information if it becomes available.