Maltese casino order charged for murder-for-hire plot

By William Brown Updated
Maltese casino order charged for murder-for-hire plot

A Maltese casino owner awaiting trail for murder wants the man who put him in the dock to be prosecuted for perjury.

Yorgen Fenech is accused of ordering Caruana Galizia’s 2017 assassination by car bomb, an event that mad eheadlines all over the world.

Meanwhile, Fenech’s alleged involvement in the killing exposed corruption among the Maltese political scene and business elite, toppling the government of former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Prosecutors believe Fenech arranged the murder to stop Caruana Galizia, a journalist, from exposing an allegedly corrupt energy contract awarded to one of Fenech’s companies by the Maltese government.

A Dubai-registered company controlled by Fenech, 17 Black, planned to make a $2 million payment to two offshore shell companies owned by two key government figures.

“Middleman” makes explosive claims about casino owner

Fenech was arrested in November 2019 by Maltese armed forces while trying to flee the island on his yacht.

That was a day after the arrest of self-confessed go-between Melvin Theuma.

Theuma claims he was the “middleman” between Fenech and the assassins, gangster brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio, and their associate, Vince Muscat.

Theuma was granted immunity from prosecution for his role in the murder in return for testifying against his coconspirators.

He told police Fenech was the “mastermind” of the plot.

Until his arrest, Fenech was CEO of the Tumas Group, one of Malta’s biggest employers.

It owns the Qawra Oracle Casino and the Portomaso Casino, as well as online gaming website.

Fenech remains a major shareholder in the group.

A magistrate’s court in capital Valletta met to consider a complaint filed by Fenech’s legal team in early January.

His lawyers claim police failed to act on their request to investigate Theuma for perjury.

They argue his testimony was riddled with “half-truths and blatant lies” and his implication of their client in the plot was “total fabrication”.

Theuma’s lawyers have filed their own application for police to take criminal action against Fenech for moral violence against their client.

In July 2020, Theuma was found in a critical condition with stab wounds to the neck and abdomen.

Police believe he turned a knife on himself in an apparent suicide attempt.

Australia casino games provider posts bumper results

Perth-based online social and casino games provider Virtual Gaming Worlds has flagged its preference for a US listing instead of one closer to home.

The online social gaming provider announced a record pre-tax profit of $358 million in 2020-21.

In a financial year full of lockdowns across Virtual Gaming Worlds main market of the United States, boredom or hopes of financial salvation drove players to the company’s suite of online poker, poker and blackjack tables in unprecedented numbers.

Revenue increased to $2.23 billion in 12 months to June 30, up 186 per cent on the previous year’s $779 million, according to a note sent to the unlisted public company’s investors.

“Our clear focus on profitability and improving our customer experience has paid off,” said Laurence Escalante, the 40-year-old former financial planner who founded VGW in 2010.

“The global shift to mobile games and online entertainment has helped fuel our success. We saw this through the worst of the pandemic, but it has continued as North America has opened up.”

VGW is now raking in more than half the annual revenue of Aristocrat Leisure, the real-life pokies company which has been around for 26 years longer.

However, BGW seems unlikely to join Aristocrat on the Australian Securities Exchange.

“We are attracted to the size and maturity of the US technology market for investment,” Escalante said.

VGW’s pre-tax profit of $358 million was a 361 per cent jump on the $99 million recorded in 2019-20, while its headcount has doubled to 800 in offices across Perth, Sydney, Manila, San Francisco, Toronto and Malta.

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