PN strongly counters Muscat’s claims of ignoring gaming company’s criminal links

Nationalist MP paints a wholly different picture in reaction to Prime Minister's serious claims that the previous administration had invested €8 million into a gaming company, despite due diligence exercises revealing its 'links to criminal activity' 

Opposition MP Tonio Fenech delivers a speech in Parliament
Opposition MP Tonio Fenech delivers a speech in Parliament

Nationalist MP Tonio Fenech has vehemently rejected Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s claims that the previous administration had granted $10 million to a gaming company, despite warnings of its criminal links.

Muscat had claimed in his Budget speech earlier this week that Malta Enteprirse had granted $10 million (€8 million) to TRC Entertainment, despite its ‘due diligence’ exercises uncovering the gaming company’s “dubious background and links to criminal activity”.

However, Fenech – a former finance minister - in Parliament categorically denied Muscat’s allegations and painted a completely different version of events.

He recounted how the government had sought big names in the digital game industry to spark the growth of a new economic niche in Malta.

In 2011, TRC Entertainment – founded by Peter Robinson set up shop in Malta with the aim of putting a child-friendly video game, Wishingtooth, on the market.

As its promoters of the game, it roped in former Sony Computer Entertainment Europe president Chris Deering – who was also made Malta’s special envoy to gaming - and former Jetix Europe CEO Paul Taylor.

“They are names of authority, they could spot the game’s potential, and they thought that it could make it big,” Fenech said. “There is a high risk of failure in the digital game industry, and experts will tell you that only one out of ten games make it on the market.”

He denied Muscat’s allegation that the due diligence report on TNC had uncovered criminal activity on behalf of its founder, only that there was a question mark in Peter Robinson’s life that couldn’t be accounted for.

“However, the government was still concerned about this and asked Deering and Taylor for their opinion. They green-lighted him and said that they were willing to associate themselves with him.

“Moreover, we took the case to the Security Services, who also said that he didn’t carry a criminal risk.”

Malta Enterprise had invested €8 million into TRC, and Fenech insisted that not a single penny found its way into the owner’s pockets.

“We reached an agreement with him that the money invested by Malta Enterprise would be directly linked with salaries to the local workers employed by the company,” the MP said. “Malta Enterprise’s logic was that it wanted to promote the digital game industry amongst Maltese youths, and that their on-the-job experience would prove valuable, even if the game failed.”

Fenech challenged Muscat to publish the contract signed between TRC and Malta Enterprise, insisting that it included clauses such as that the entire investment was linked with the success of the investment.

“The project failed because of problems with cash flows; they needed a further €3 million in equity from external investors that never arrived,” he said. “Up to this day, no criminal activity has been linked with TRC and the company still believes that the game can be a success story.”