Update: Adrian Hillman was granted bail secured by a €50,000 deposit and €100,000 personal guarantee. His assets remain frozen.
Former Managing Director of Allied Newspapers Adrian Hillman has arrived in Malta as a result of extradition proceedings linked to money laundering charges.
Hillman arrived in court this morning and will appear before Magistrate Doreen Clarke who will hear the charges against him and decide whether to release him or retain him in preventive custody.
He was among 11 charged with a list of financial crimes, including money laundering and fraud, over a deal that first emerged in the Panama Papers leak involving financial transactions related to the purchase of printing machinery by Allied Group, publishers of The Times of Malta.
Proceedings against others, including the owner of Kasco Group who is also former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri, his father Alfio, the representatives of the accounting firm Nexia BT that set up their offshore companies, as well as financial services company MFSP Financial (later renamed Zenith).
The others accused spent a period of time in preventive custody as bail requests were denied over some two weeks despite their pleas of ‘not guilty’. Their cases continue to be heard in court before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.
Hillman’s arrival in Malta occurs more than two months after charges were announced. The former managing director of Allied Newspapers was residing in the UK and extradition proceedings were delayed following Brexit and a change in procedure.
Allied Group’s publication, The Times of Malta, reported last week that Hillman was “cooperating” and his return – two months later and only after extradition procedures were concluded following the cooperation of law enforcement authorities in the UK – was “voluntary”.
Meanwhile, the managing director appointed by Allied Group in his stead, Michel Rizzo, as well as former financial controller Claude Licari, have also been charged with fraud and money laundering, among other charges.
Allied Group has filed judicial protests in court against Schembri and two of its former managing directors, to recoup some $5 million when it purchased printing machinery in 2008 from Schembri’s Kasco Engineering.
The charges against the other accused
Disgraced former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, his father Alfio Schembri, Kasco Group CEO Malcolm Scerri and Robert Zammit were charged with money laundering, criminal conspiracy, accountancy crimes and fraud.
Schembri faces additional charges of false testimony and falsification, while Zammit has also been charged with breaching accountancy obligations.
Zenith (formerly MFSP Financial) shareholders Lorraine Falzon and Matthew Pace were charged in a later session. Both pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering, making a false declaration to a public authority, accountancy law breaches and criminal conspiracy.
The charges came after Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and Katrin Carter Bondin from now-defunct financial services firm Nexia BT were also arraigned in court.
Tonna, Cini and Castagna were also charged with submitting false declarations to authorities and fraud. Tonna and Cini are additionally accused of giving false statements to the court. All pleaded not guilty to the charges.
More to follow.