Allied Newspapers managing director received $650,000 in secret British Virgin Islands company in 2014 alone

Published: May 15, 2016 at 5:16pm

Documents contained in the Panama Papers, to which The Malta Independent has now been given full and unrestricted access through a media partnership agreement signed with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (the Times of Malta has the same agreement), reveal that Adrian Hillman’s secret company in the British Virgin Islands, Lester Holdings Group Ltd, received at least $650,000 from an unnamed source. Read the full story here if you have not done so already.

Hillman was at the time chairman of the Allied Newspaper Group, which owns Progress Press, the Times of Malta and The Sunday Times. He was forced to resign his position when, several weeks ago, I reported that he had received kickbacks from Keith Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. Schembri’s businesses are the main supplier of capital goods, consumables and services to the Allied Newspaper Group. Hillman is now subject to an ongoing inquiry by the Allied Newspaper Group.

Neither the Prime Minister’s chief of staff nor Hillman contacted me directly with a denial or request for correction, and instead denied my reports to third-party media. In a strange alliance that requires further investigation, one of the owners of Malta Today has spent the ensuing weeks defending Hillman outrageously, even saying that he feels desperately sorry for him because he is so “down”, and launching parallel assaults on me for saying that he took money off the Prime Minister’s chief of staff via his secret offshore company.

Now I will add something else to the mix. The scale of this operation – I know of other large sums of money which have been funnelled between Schembri and Hillman in separate offshore jurisdictions – indicates that it is not only kickbacks we are talking about here, but a full-on organised operation that looks to me to be criminal. There can be no question that they are laundering money. The only question that remains to be answered is, are they sticking to laundering the money that has been siphoned off from a legitimate business (a crime), or paid in corruption kickbacks (also a crime), or are they running something far more sinister that is an illegal business operation in itself?

Perhaps the Prime Minister’s chief of staff would care to pick up the phone and tell me, the next time I try to get through to him for answers.

keith schembri