13 December 2006

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Business Today

Labour MP queries broadband provider to gaming companies

Labour MP Josè Herrera has sought assurance from the prime minister and minister of finance Lawrence Gonzi on the alleged “dominance” of the company Bell Med, one of the island’s leading IT providers for the online gaming business.
Gonzi has told Herrera Bell Med did not occupy a dominant position in the market, despite the company’s claims that it was the main provider for 90% of the lucrative gaming sector’s online betting companies. Gonzi said Bell Med was actually representing 50 gaming companies from the 130 licensed so far by the Lotteries and Gaming Authority.
Harking back to allegations that the LGA’s chief executive Mario Galea had still a controlling interest in Bell Med, Herrera asked in parliament whether the government was assured that there was still no controlling interest by the CEO in the company.
Gonzi reiterated previous claims that the gaming authority’s chief executive had shown all evidence to the gaming board that he had no connection with Bell Med.
In August 2004, some time after Galea’s appointment to chief executive, the government declared the former owner of Bell Med had disposed of his private shareholding by selling his shareholding to a nominee company.
Created to promote internet gaming in Malta back in 1996 by the then Malta Financial Services Corporation, Malta Stock Exchange and Computer Aided Technologies (CAT) – a company fully-owned by Mario Galea – Bell Med Ltd became the property of CAT in 2002.
On 10 May 2004, Mario Galea officially resigned from company director at CAT and was superseded by Bell Med’s director Ian Curtis. Today Galea is no longer the director-shareholder of CAT. Galea did indeed dispose of his shareholding in CAT four months after his appointment as CEO in February 2004, to a nominee company called Knights Corporate Business Ltd on 8 June 2004.
Galea’s divestiture to Knights Corporate Business had not raised any eyebrows at the Ministry of Finance, with Gonzi saying back then that Galea had “no interest in any business, employment, consultancies, fiduciary positions, representations or other interest whether financial or otherwise, in any business firm, organisation, company or other entity”.

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