Allied Newspapers has expressed its “immeasurable surprise” at the decision to charge its current Managing Director, Michel Rizzo, and one of its companies, Progress Press, with fraud and money laundering offences.
Rizzo, the group revealed, has suspended himself from the role following the charges. However, the group was insistent that the “police themselves said in court that there is no evidence whatsoever that Rizzo appropriated any funds”.
Rizzo and former chief financial officer Claude Licari have been charged with money laundering, fraud, conspiracy to commit a crime punishable by imprisonment, false declarations to a public authority, and forgery. The charges are linked to an investigation into alleged kickbacks between former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, former managing director Adrian Hillman, and former managing director Vince Buhagiar.
The magistrate also froze the assets of Progress Press, the company which used to print Times of Malta and which Rizzo is director of. An administrator will be appointed to manage the company.
The group did not reference the charges issued against Licari in the statement.
“Allied Group stresses that it has cooperated fully with the magisterial inquiry into the ongoing graft allegations and steadfastly maintains that it has been a victim of dealings that took place behind the backs of both Progress Press and the directors of all its companies.”
“Allied Group is committed to continue cooperating with the authorities and looks forward to justice being served against the real perpetrators of crimes carried out to the detriment of the Company,” the group said in a statement.
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