Published On: Wed, Feb 13th, 2019

Court allows prosecutor to sell Corallo’s boats

Sacs Strider photo

PHILIPSBURG – The Court in First Instance denied casino owner Francesco Corallo’s request to stop the sale of three boats he owns in a ruling dated January 10 that was recently published on rechtspraak.nl. The sale takes place at the request of the prosecutor in Rome who seeks €215.4 million ($244.3 million) in unlawful profits from the businessman.

The dispute about three boats that belong to Corallo is already more than two years old. On December 13, 2016, the prosecutor in Rome requested that his colleagues in St. Maarten confiscate three boats under the rule of “confiscation by equivalent of the unlawful profit.”

One boat for sale listed in the court ruling is identified as Starnet, built in 2011 with a Mercury engine and a value of €300,000 ($340,200); a second boat, with a Sacs romp, model Strider is valued at €426,971 (just above $484,000). This second boat was built in 2007 and is equipped with a 2012 Yamaha 300 engine. The Italian authorities also want the prosecutor in St. Maarten to sell a third boat; this one is only listed in the ruling with its identification plate (Alegria Panama, MMSI25590599) and its call sign CRXV.

Attorney Jairo Bloem, acting for Corallo, went to court in an attempt to prevent the sale of the boats, after the Judge of Instruction granted the prosecutor’s office the authority to sell them on August 8, 2017.

Earlier that summer, the prosecutor in Rome authorized the sale because of the prohibitive cost of keeping the boats in custody and their inevitable depreciation.

The judge in Philipsburg ruled that there are no facilities in St. Maarten for extended custody under conditions fit to protect the value of the boats. “Climate conditions make a progressive decrease in value plausible,” the judge ruled.

Bloem negotiated with the prosecutor’s office about conditions for the return of the boats to their owner (by providing a guarantee) but these talks yielded no results.

In Italy in the meantime, the court made a few remarkable moves. First it authorized the sale on July 3, 2017, and then it issued a stop order on November 19 of the following year. But in the same month, on November 30, the same court overruled that decision and put the authorization to sell back in place.

Bloem asked the court on behalf of Corallo to block the sale pending the outcome of the criminal procedure in Italy. He also asked to wait for a ruling on an emergency procedure by the Italian court. The attorney argued that a request for judicial assistance from Italy is lacking for the lien on the boats and the authorization to sell them. For the same reason he considered the lien on the boats invalid. But the court ruled against these arguments, saying that there is a valid request for judicial assistance and that there are no grounds to stop the sale.

In an attempt to get his boats back, Corallo offered to pay for their custody and for their maintenance and to accept conditions for their use. But because the businessman did not put up a guarantee, the court denied this option.

Photo caption: Boat magazine describes the Sacs Strider power boat as “a masterpiece of Italian craftmanship.” Photo boatmag.com.