While some 130 workers were suddenly made redundant just before last Christmas from the Genesis Global gaming company, its Maltese directors had already abandoned ship in the two months leading up to the mass lay-offs.
The employees did not even receive their salaries for December, only termination letters, by email, to the effect that the company was being declared insolvent because of “serious financial difficulty”.
The Shift can now confirm that only two months earlier, the two Maltese directors of Genesis Global – advisory, audit and tax firm BDO Consult Limited and its CEO Mark Attard – resigned from their respective directorships of the company at the end of October.
That was less than eight weeks before the proverbial hit the fan and the company’s staff complement was let go, by email, on 23 December.
Earlier in the year, in January, the company had been slapped with a €4.5 million fine by UK regulators and in early December CEO Ariel Reem had stepped down. The company has also had to fight a $5-million fine in Belgium and a $418K fine in Sweden over the company’s failure to comply with anti-money laundering rules and other violations.
The Malta Gaming Authority eventually suspended the company’s licence last month.
‘No longer involved’
Contacted on Friday to explain his and BDO’s early departures from the company, Attard told The Shift that he was not the correct person to speak to about Genesis Global since he was “no longer involved” in the company”.
Told that was the precise reason that he was being contacted – to explain his departure from the company just before the lay-offs hit and the company filed for bankruptcy – Attard said he was in a meeting and that he would call back.
That call, however, never came.
Malta-based Genesis Holdings Limited is the umbrella company that owns Genesis Global Limited, Genesis Evolve Limited, and Genesis Stellar Limited.
Genesis Global Limited and its mother company Genesis Holdings Limited had filed for bankruptcy in the Maltese courts on 16 December, a full week before employees were told they were being let go because of the company’s insolvency.
The directors of Genesis Global were once three but BDO Consult Limited and BDO’s CEO Mark Attard resigned their company directorships in and legal representations of the company at the end of October, leaving Yaniv Meydan of Melbourne Australia as the sole director.
Meydan, the CEO of the Meydan Group, is the owner of the Genesis financial structure that was set up in Malta, presumably by the accountancy firm and partner in Malta BDO. It seems it was Meydan, the companies’ beneficial owner, who ultimately decided to close the businesses down.
Genesis Global no longer appears on the Meydan Group’s website where it once was. The website boasts of its portfolio of businesses and investments being “reflective of the deep reservoir of expertise and credentials in the core industries in which we operate. Innovation, technology, people and finance are core to our portfolio regardless of the sector in which the business operates.”
But it appears that when finances became increasingly strained, his Maltese partners got out before the operation went belly-up and employees were unceremoniously fired without their salaries two days before Christmas.
Maltese directors resigned at the end of October
Attard and BDO Consult both resigned as directors and judicial representatives of Genesis Global with an effective date of 21 October 2022, according to documents filed at the Malta Business Registry. Attard also resigned as company secretary effective 24 October
Genesis Holdings is currently being wound up and the next court hearing is before Judge Ian Spiteri Bailey on 22 February. Attard resigned from Genesis Holdings effective 24 October and BDO resigned as the company’s director and judicial representative on the same date.
Attard had also served as company secretary for Genesis Evolve and Genesis Stellar, positions he resigned from effective 24 October.
Less than two months after that, 130 Genesis Global employees were told in an email they were being dismissed, that company was insolvent and that they wouldn’t be paid their outstanding salaries for the month of December or any other sums they were due.
“We are currently trying our best to find a solution to this issue by trying to raise some funds, and in addition we hope to liaise with the authorities concerned in order to ease the burden and find alternative solutions in order for you to be paid at least some of the money due to you,” they were told.
Long road for employees to recover salaries
In a recent interview, labour and employment law specialist Dr Andrew Borg Cardona opined the road for employees to recover the wages they are owed could be a long one and it depends on the company’s financial status and, with the company undergoing insolvency proceedings, employees will have to get in line with other creditors.
One component of the company‘s financial woes could be the €4.5 million it was slapped with following a two-year UK investigation that identified several breaches in anti-money laundering and social responsibility regulations that occurred in 2020.
The company was found to have committed three anti-money laundering breaches and at least three social responsibility violations, leading to the decision by the UK’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) to levy the fine.
In June 2020, the UKGC had already suspended Genesis Global’s licence to operate in the UK for three months.
Besides the £3.8 million fine the UKGC said in a statement on 27 January that it informed the company that it will be made to submit to “further, extensive auditing”, with the commission’s executive director firing off warning shots at operators in general by stating that they should “pay very close attention” to the UKGC’s handling of the case”.
BDO Consult Limited remains a shareholder in Genesis Holdings, which, in turn, owns Genesis Global, with just over 21.5% of the company. 62.1% of the shares are owned by a non-descript company in Hong Kong called Madlyg HK Holdings Limited, TSO Consulting Limited of Gibraltar (13%) and Israeli Ron Elie Segev (3.1%).
After reading this article, the immediate impression on me was that the ‘realm of rendering money from generating growth’ with being in business with non-solid parts of the economy such as this Gaming Industry, is falling apart like a house of cards.
It’s not just that, it is also the Oligarchs who purchased their Maltese Passports with the IIP Scheme after investing millions of Euros in Malta preferably into the building industry that uglifies Malta and benefits the contractors and the developers apart from the state coffers.
That is the other legacy of the Joseph Muscat era, a ruined country by greedy capitalism. Just a couple of years after he was forced to resign from the office of PM.
I wonder which branch of the economy is to collaps next. It looks really that way as if, to picture it, Joseph Muscat was sitting on the beach and building his castle on and of sand and once finished and flourishing, came the wave out of the sea and washed it all away. Gaming Industry gone, IIP scheme soon to be gone, the Russian Oligarchs on the run, what is there left of all that he promised as the economical solid ground for Malta’s future that has even a minimum of substance?
In due course, it might become an unavoidable reality for Malta that what Joseph Muscat always tried to avoid, which was to have Malta not depending on the financial support from the EU, might be what will be left to sustain the Maltese economy. That means nothing to choose from, either to comply with the EU or get nothing.
The tourism industry is also a sector where quick money and more hotels to build threatens the sustainability of quality tourism. The noise pollution and the recklessness of some venue running people are rather driving people away from a second visit to Malta.
One thing comes to another and in the end makes up the negative image Malta has internationally. But why bother? Everything is fine with the PL, as long as the money comes in. Well, that is the whole point!
Reading your comment one would think the gaming industry is done for in Malta.
“…such as this Gaming Industry, is falling apart like a house of cards…”,
“…which branch of the economy is to collaps next…”,
“Gaming Industry gone…”
This is one of few cases where a company does not comply with a jurisdiction’s regulations, then unable to handle the ensuing fines. No more, no less.
All the rest about the scoundrel Muscat, his corrupt cabal and shiny facades, yes agree.
The thing is, that I don’t regard the Gaming Industry as a branch of an economy on which I would rely on. In fact, I am that kind of a person who don’t even spend a cent on such business because it is like throwing money out of the window for nothing.
It might be as you said, that ‘this is one of few cases where a company does not comply with a jurisdiction’s regulations then unable to handle the ensuing fines’. That is exactly the point. They don’t comply with a jurisdiction’s regulations and therefore get fined and in the end, going insolvent and pulling out with leaving those who worked for them without the wages.
The statement by the Maltese govt was to be understood that there is hardly anything they can do about it.
It is of course always a matter of perception and interpretation the way one looks at things. Going with that example at hand, taking other examples to it and one gets the picture that the PL govt is gambling with the assets of Malta.
So, what is more and no less when turning the light to the bigger picture, the sell out of Malta in regards of commercialising every space at the expence of the environment which goes also at the expense of quality of life in regards of air pollution, noise pollution, traffic congestion that causes both the aforesaid. The never ending building up of a concrete jungle that is always set to build high rising buildings which put the old traditional ones in a shadow. More roads for tackling traffic congestion, which in effect appear to just replace the spot of it but not really tackle it. The flooded roads by heavy rain for the drainage system can’t take it to absorb and channel the masses of rain water. The quality of the road works being not matching the high standards as they should and probably have been paid for.
Malta under the PL since Joseph Muscat has been turned into a Casino Maltese and everything goes fine until the peak has been reached and then it says ‘rien ne va plus’. One knows from that phrase that it is always the Bank that wins. Bears the question who in this gambling Malta is the Bank?
There is one thing I like to add to my previous comment, which is that this article like so many others tell and prove, Malta is still relying too much on foreign investment, on the big money that comes quickly and as one can see by the example in this article, goes as quickly as it came in the mid to the long run.
Apart from the big shiny business that is preferred in Malta, there is the solid part of the hard working people in Malta, the crafts industry (Mdina Glass for example), the Malta Film Industry. Productions like Strada Stretta, L-Gharusa, the Women of Georg Cross Island, to name just a few series filmed and produced in Malta by Maltese companies with Maltese actresses and actors. Films like Simshar, Is-Sriep, Luzzu, some of which won international awards, but are hardly to get outside of Malta, and if not via streaming, hardly shown in cinemas outside of Malta.
Malta, rich in history and culture, can use that what I see and like to describe as their own capital, its heritage unique within the whole of Europe, but what is the PL govt doing? Neglecting it, treating it like some second rate business and handing out just the minimum of financial support, whereas the international film industry who comes to Malta gets the million funds for each film shooting. I can literally picture the people who are in the key positions to decide on all that, just either thinking or even saying ‘who’s interested in Maltese productions anyway? Nobody likes to bother with it’.
But when some international star comes over to do the usual films he’s renowed for, half of Malta gets excited. When a Maltese film wins an award, it gets published in the media has some short time of ‘being proud of Malta’ and that was that.
I think that people who underrate and neglect the talents in Malta are just wrong and have no clue of the outside world looking at Malta because they always keep the ‘islander’s view’ looking from Malta into the outer world but never get the opposite perspective even just for consideration. There is an interest in such things from outside Malta but one has to promote it, beyond the usual touristic efforts. It might not bring in the big money in a short term, but it would at least put the picture of Malta in a balance on the international level.
There is no need for boasting with nationalistic pride, just support and care for your own talents working in Malta and at least some success might come along the way.
The Malta of the imagination of Joseph Muscat and his PL, as he was to bring it to a reality, is not the real Malta of substance, it is just a facade, shiny and without a soul. The real soul of Malta is in its artwork, its traditions, its unique architecture and those people of Maltese origine who carry it with it, whether they live in Malta or not.