David Gonzi maintains that a report drafted by Italian investigators in relation to his involvement with online gambling operations run by the Mafia is “factually incorrect”.

The son of former prime minister Lawrence Gonzi insisted the voluminous report submitted by investigators to the Reggio Calabria tribunal failed to recognise that his company, GVM Holdings, was a licensed fiduciary.

Dr Gonzi is one of 128 people under investigation over money laundering by the Calabrian Mafia, known as ’Ndrangheta. Hard cash obtained through illegal means was allegedly recycled through ‘legitimate’ gaming outlets in Italy, Malta and elsewhere.

Dr Gonzi’s name crops up several times in the 700-page report in view of his one-third shareholding in GVM, which holds shares on behalf of various online betting companies. Despite GVM having three equal partners, investigators only mentioned Dr Gonzi by name.

In a statement yesterday, Dr Gonzi said GVM was licensed as a fiduciary to hold shares on behalf of beneficial owners “disclosed and approved” by the Malta Gaming Authority.

He said the investigators’ report failed to point this out and it also made no mention that he was “one of three shareholders” and that he was only appointed director of GVM in December 2014.

I will also be directly contacting, over the coming days, Italian and Maltese police authorities to clarify my position

Dr Gonzi said so far he had not been approached by the Italian authorities and had provided all the necessary information to the Maltese authorities, including the Malta Financial Services Authority and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

“I will also be directly contacting, over the coming days, Italian and Maltese police authorities to clarify my position,” he said.

Through his partnership in GVM, Italian investigators place Dr Gonzi at the heart of a pyramidal company structure behind the Italian gaming companies registered in Malta.

But in his reaction after obtaining the report Dr Gonzi rebutted the findings.

“In a 770-page document it would be expected that a statement that I am involved ‘at the centre’ of the network should have been backed up by some sort of evidence, of which obviously there is none.”

He noted that the report itself said the conclusions in his regard “required further investigation”.

Dr Gonzi reiterated that since his first contact in October 2013 as legal adviser to one of the gambling companies registered in Malta, and since becoming a director of GVM last year, no one ever had a reason to suspect unlawful activity by the companies, whether in Malta or elsewhere.

He insisted GVM carried out due diligence of its clients, which was supplemented by checks undertaken by the Malta Gaming Authority.

GVM severed contracts with betting companies that had their licence suspended last week after extradition proceedings started in Malta against Italian nationals indicted by the Italian police.

kurt.sansone@timesofmalta.com

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