Progress Press has initiated court proceedings against former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, as well as two of the company’s former managing directors, in a bid to recover €5 million which they allegedly defrauded the company of.
Schembri, along with former directors Adrian Hillman and Vince Buhagiar are believed to have played key roles in a scheme that saw Kasco Engineering overcharge Progress Press for the purchase of new printing press equipment.
The company today filed two judicial protests. One against Schembri, his father Alfio and Kasco Group CEO Malcolm Scerri, and a second against former Allied Group managing partner Adrian Hillman and chairman Vince Buhagiar.
It said that from the evidence presented in court so far, the company now believes it was the victim of “an illicit, secretive and abusive side deal” that took place behind the backs of the company’s directors.
The company is seeking compensation for alleged corruption, which it said had caused significant pecuniary harm to Progress Press and Allied Newspapers, publisher of the Times of Malta.
Progress Press said that in 2008, it had agreed to purchase printing press equipment through one of Schembri’s company’s, Kasco Engineering, for the price of $13.58 million.
“[The price] for the purchasing of the equipment included roughly $5 million which was added in a totally abusive, illicit and deceitful manner,” Progress Press said, adding that the funds had then be distributed among themselves and their associates.
The company said it was calling on the accused to give an account of, and refund, the money they had pocketed.
Schembri, along with his father Alfio, Kasco Group CEO Malcolm Scerri and the group’s financial controller Robert Zammit, are also facing charges related to corruption and money laundering.
Buhagiar has also been charged in court over his role in the deal, while Hillman is awaiting extradition to Malta in order for him to also be charged.
The charges were brought against them following the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into the allegations.
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