Updated | DIZZ owner Diane Izzo files judicial protest over MP's money laundering accusations

Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi implies fashion retail group registers low profits because of money laundering

Diane Izzo and Jason Azzopardi
Diane Izzo and Jason Azzopardi

Diane Izzo, CEO of fashion retailer DIZZ Group has filed a judicial protest against Opposition MP Jason Azzopardi, calling upon him to take down a Facebook post that links the group’s outlets to money laundering.

In the protest, filed before the First Hall of the Civil Court earlier today, Izzo explains that the Group is a leading operator in the retail fashion sector and operates several food establishments and other businesses.

“For the past 20 years, it has built and expanded its business and to date has an impeccable reputation,” Izzo said.

A judicial protest is not an action for libel and has no executive power, serving only as a warning that the person will seek proceedings for damages if the situation persists. No evidence is heard unless the judicial protest is followed up by a court case.

Izzo had threatened to file libel proceedings against Azzopardi over his claims (see below).

The document filed today states that Azzopardi had claimed on Facebook that the company was not going to be in a position to satisfy its obligations to its investors and was being used for the purpose of money laundering.
The company strongly rebutted the “insinuations and sensational and malicious allegations that are evidently made for partisan reasons and intended solely to defame and damage the reputation of the company and its business.”

Azzopardi had “made a manipulated interpretation of the financial report he quoted, by presenting selected figures and not giving a clear picture of the group’s financial position.”

Izzo said that the PN MP did not say that the company had been operating for the past 20 years. She said that over the years the company had built a strong brand through “measured steps, hard work and absolute diligence that allowed it to gradually expand and diversify its business”.

“Every commercial decision taken by the plaintiff was always legal, legitimate, according to its financial obligation and in the best interests of its investors, as can be easily verified,” she added.

The protest argued that Azzopardi “or the third parties who are directing him” had an interest in giving an interpretation that was manipulated for their “malign intentions.”

Izzo said she was in a position to disprove the allegations, and held Azzopardi responsible for any damages resulting from his actions.

The judicial protest demanded Azzopardi take down the offending social media comment and make a public apology as well as a retraction of his allegations.

In a reaction on Facebook, Azzopardi said he would look forward to a counter-examination in which he would call up Joseph and Michelle Muscat and former chief of staff Keith Schembri, to testify in the defamation suit.


In a Facebook post earlier in the day, Izzo said Jason Azzopardi will have to answer for his lies in court. "I shall be filing a libel case to safeguard the sterling reputation of my company, our employees, and their families,” she wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

Azzopardi had claimed on his Facebook page that if the Maltese Economic Crimes Unit were a functioning department, it would investigate “the bosom friends of the Muscat couple and the so called DIZZ Group.”

Azzopardi quoted a 2014 to 2017 financial report of the company, saying that there were discrepancies in the figures listed. “Turnover of fashionwear has increased from €5.1 million in 2014, to €15 million in 2017, an increase of 192%. This increase has been achieved with the increase in the number of retail outlets, which numbered 33 in 2017,” he wrote.

Azzopardi said, after calculations, that the financial report meant that the average turnover per outlet in 2017 was €492,750, resulting in an average profit before tax of €14,932 per outlet.

“Would you open 33 outlets for a mere €14,932 profit pre tax (circa €10,000 net profits) per outlet? Furthermore: the DIZZ Group bonds are amongst the worst on the market,” he wrote.

He concluded that this could only mean that DIZZ group probably had not met debt obligations and that “money laundering is facilitated a lot by having a big number of outlets.”

Izzo’s response on Facebook came two hours later as she claimed a libel lawsuit would be filed.

“I am very sorry to break it to Dr Azzopardi that the only secret behind our 20 years of success is hard work. I am holding Jazon Azzopardi personally responsible for any damages that his lies have procured,” she wrote.