Portomaso Casino owner Yorgen Fenech has said his casino applies strict compliance procedures when asked how one of the men charged with the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia had managed to gamble hundreds of thousands of euro at his premises despite being legally unemployed.
“The Tumas Group conducts its operations in full compliance with all its obligations at law,” Fenech’s lawyers Karl Briffa and Joseph Vella wrote to journalists John Sweeney, Carlo Bonini and Manuel Delia, in a response that was published in their new book ‘Murder on the Malta Express’.
“You are well aware that the company is not in a position to divulge any specific details in respect of any patrons or clients, including of the casinos operated by the Group, but rest assured that such casinos apply strict compliance procedures and take all required actions at law whenever there may be suspicion of any illicit activity, and indeed has been the case when such action was required.”
After his arrest for the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, police charged Alfred Degiorgio, as well as his brother and fellow murder suspect George Degiorgio and George’s partner Anca Adelina Pop, with money laundering.
During the case, it emerged that although Alfred Degiorgio was legally unemployed and claiming social benefits, he had gambled some €570,000 in various casinos over the years, losing €71,000 but walking away with some €499,000 in clean money.
His favourite casino appeared to be the Portomaso Casino, where he gambled €457,000 and walked away with €441,000, an incredible 96.5% success rate. He gambled less money and was less successful at the Dragonara Casino, Casino Malta and the Oracle Casino, the latter of which is also owned by Fenech.
In their correspondence with Fenech’s lawyers, the book authors asked the casino boss whether Degiorgio’s walking away with so much money seemed odd to him, whether the provenance of the money he gambled was checked and whether his gambling was flagged as suspicious.
They also asked whether Fenech thought the money was a cloak payment for services Degiorgio carried out for a third party while Fenech was aware of the transaction.
This was the lawyers’ response.
“The matter to which you make reference once again regarding the running of the Tumas Group Casinos has already been comprehensively addressed in our previous email, but since you keep returning to this subject we would only add that our clients are strictly precluded by law from providing you with any information in addition to what has been already stated in the said email such that your repeated requests are therefore being done with an ulterior motive.”
“For the record, however, we refer you to the evidence tendered by a representative of the casinos operated by Tumas Group in July 2018 in the ongoing proceedings before the criminal court against Alfred Degiorgio and others related to money laundering charges, which evidence had clearly established that Alfred Degiorgio’s last visit to the said casinos goes back to 2012 in the case of one casino and 2013 in the case of the second casino.”
“Consequently, the inferences and insinuations made in your last paragraph are so spurious, false and contrived that they do not merit any consideration whatsoever.”