Palumbo Shipyards boss Antonio Palumbo and his son Raffaele have been sentenced to six years in prison over illegal waste dumping in Sicily.
The two Neapolitan businessmen were among seven men found guilty by a Messina court last week, which ruled that they had facilitated illegal dumping between 2011 and 2013.
The Palumbo family run what used to be the Malta Shipyard – a business they took over in 2010 – as well as the superyacht facility in Cospicua.
Their lawyers will be appealing the sentence, a company spokesperson told Times of Malta.
“It’s hard to understand what prompted this sentence,” Palumbo lawyers said following the judgement, which they described as “objectively unacceptable”.
“While prosecutors failed to prove a single one of their accusations, we presented documents detailing the entire series of events and which proved there was no illegal dumping.”
Antonio Palumbo has consistently maintained that the case is politically motivated.
Back in April 2013, when Italian police had first arrested him and his son, Mr Palumbo told the Times of Malta that he was “paying the price for living in a place that is difficult and complicated,” he had said, blaming the entire issue on Italy’s “delicate political climate”.
Italian officials first began to suspect the international shipyard group of illegal dumping in 2011, when Forestry Department officials matched dumped waste samples to ship blasting materials at Palumbo’s Messina facility.
Maltese authorities subsequently opened an investigation into the company's Maltese shipyard, following a tip-off that similar material had been dumped there and then covered in concrete.
An inspection by planning inspectors confirmed that there was residue of grit-blasting operations in the shipyard concrete.
Malta Today had reported that the investigation into those claims was wrapped up in 2016, with the PA and environmental regulator in talks "to determine the most appropriate actions to be taken".
As well as the father and son duo and five other individuals, the Messina court also found Palumbo Spa, La Futura Sud srl and Stabvia Yachting & Coating srl guilty of charges.
A company spokesperson stressed that the group’s Maltese business interests were completely unaffected by the legal wrangling.