Yorgen Fenech listed in Italian charge sheet on illegal betting

Suspected mastermind in Daphne Caruana Galizia murder was charged by a Catania court in 2014 with profiting from illegal bets

Tumas magnate Yorgen FenechFenech
Tumas magnate Yorgen FenechFenech

Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of masterminding Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination, stands charged in a Sicilian court of having profited from illegal betting.

A charge sheet seen by this newspaper, issued by the Catania district prosecutor’s office, accused Fenech of two crimes relating to winning bets on football matches while having known what the outcome of said matches would be.

In the first case, Fenech and three other men – Giovanni Luca Impellizzeri, Fabrizio Crimi and Antonio Ricci – stand charged of having in May 2014 collectively bet €6,000 on football games involving Catania vs Atlanta, Parma vs Livorno, Napoli vs Hellas Verona and Udinese vs Sampdoria, and having subsequently won €26,580.

The bets were wagered when Fenech and the three other accused knew what the outcomes of the fixed matches would be.

The accusation is not that Fenech fixed the matches himself, but that he knew the outcome, wagered money on it, and consequently made an unjust profit.

The second case is similar, involving Fenech, Impellizzeri and Crimi and the betting of €6,000 and subsequent winning of €26,580 on matches involving Avellino vs Reggina, Crotone vs Trapani and Brescia vs Juve Stabia, also in May 2014.

Fenech’s name appears within the context of a wider case concerning match fixing and betting illegalities and involving 11 other parties.
In May 2019, Ricci, a company secretary to the Malta company Harvey Gaming, who had been arrested in late April through a European arrest warrant issued by a court in Calabria, was extradited on suspicion of laundering ‘Ndrangheta mafia funds.

In a decision by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, who conducted an exhaustive examination of the requirements and procedures required in extradition cases, Ricci was extradited to Italy where he faced a maximum of seven years in prison for participation in a criminal organisation. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Stephen Tonna Lowell were defence counsel.

But in October, one of Ricci’s associated companies, OIA Services, said that an Italian review tribunal had dropped allegations of mafia association against him. Both the court of review and the Court of Cassation said there was not enough proof of the ties between criminal organisations and Malta-based gaming company, OIA Services, which operates under an Italian licence.

The allegations against OIA Services, holder of the brands ‘Betaland’ and ‘Enjoybet’, refer to tax-related matters over a supposed permanent establishment in Italy and illegal gaming offer. The company was placed under investigation in November 2018 and its websites placed offline in accordance with orders from the Prosecutor’s Office of Reggio Calabria. However, after three weeks, the Maltese enterprise was allowed to restart both its digital and retail betting network by the same prosecutor’s office.

Last month, La Sicilia reported on Fenech’s connection to the case after he was arrested in Malta.

Italian prosecutors had not been able to track him down at the time he was charged with the illegal betting crimes, but he was now in the custody of Maltese police on suspicion of involvement in Caruana Galizia’s murder.

Fenech was the CEO of the Tumas Group, one of Malta’s biggest business empires which operates a gaming division through its ownership of the Oracle Casino, the Portomaso Casino, an online platform, PortomasoLive.com, and a number of BestPlay outlets.

He resigned all his directorships in his family’s companies shortly before his arrest.

Fenech has since been charged in court with having masterminded the murder.

He has alleged that the Prime Minister’s former chief-of-staff, Keith Schembri, whom he enjoyed a fraternal relationship with, had kept him continuously informed on the progress of the murder investigations, leaking key information to him.