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MALTATODAY 24 April 2022

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2 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 24 APRIL 2022 NEWS KURT SANSONE POLICE inaction on corrup- tion was criticised by Repub- blika yesterday in a symbolic protest in which pictures of several former public officials were plastered on the courts' perimeter fence. The rule of law NGO said on Saturday it wanted to send a clear message that it will con- tinue insisting with the coun- try's institutions to do their job and ensure justice is done. Black and white photos of sev- eral formal public officials, in- cluding former prime minister Joseph Muscat, his right-hand man Keith Schembri, ex-minis- ters Konrad Mizzi, Chris Car- dona and Edward Scicluna, and former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar, were strung up on the gate outside the law courts in Valletta. Repubblika President Robert Aquilina said no election result should be used to exculpate those who were accomplices in serious criminal cases, includ- ing corruption and the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia. Aquilina said that while the police have charged Yorgen Fenech with Caruana Gali- zia's assassination, they have charged no one, including Fenech, on corruption, which he said was the motive behind the murder. "If the police believe Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered because of corruption, why has no one been charged with this?" Repubblika will continue in- sisting that politicians and all those responsible for corrup- tion linked to the company 17 Black (a Dubai-based company owned by Yorgen Fenech) be charged. Aquilina lambasted Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà and the Attorney General for dragging their feet on the matter. He also said it was unacceptable to have institu- tions passing the buck on who should be investigating finan- cial crimes linked to EU funds. Aquilina was referring to the strong comments made earlier this week by the chief Europe- an public prosecutor who said in Malta no one was responsi- ble for investigating EU fraud. "We should not and we will not allow this humiliation to continue as if nothing is hap- pening," he said. Aquilina said police have yet to charge anyone over corrupt public deals, including the Vi- tals hospitals concession, the Electrogas tender, the Monte- negro windfarms deal and the information that emerged from the Panama Papers. Repubblika calls out police inaction on political corruption Corinthia owners appoint advisers to navigate Russian sanctions MATTHEW VELLA THE Maltese hotel chain Inter- national Hotel Investments has engaged international legal ad- visers to assist in managing the situation that sanctions on Rus- sia have brought about. IHI, which operates the Corin- thia Hotels brand, operates a ho- tel in St Petersburg, which has a net asset value of €84 million. "The situation regarding these sanctions and any coun- ter-sanctions that Russia itself may impose on the internation- al community is continuously developing. The consequences these sanctions could have on the group are difficult to deter- mine," IHI plc said in its finan- cials for 2021. In 2021, IHI achieved operat- ing results before depreciation and fair value of €26.5 million as compared to a loss of €3.8 million in 2020, prior to approx- imately €23 million to cover in- terest on bonds and bank loans, giving a total cash loss of €26.8 million for 2020. IHI owns a hotel in St Peters- burg with an adjoining commer- cial centre which have been in operation for a number of years. Both the hotel and the commer- cial centre remain operation- al. IHI's interest in St Petersburg represents approximately 8% of the Group's total revenue and assets. It said all customers in 2021 in the St Petersburg hotel were al- most exclusively from inside the Russian Federation, a situation that is expected to continue well into 2022 given severely curtailed flight schedules and internation- al sanctions on Russia. "On the other hand, on a purely factual basis, current demand and book- ings into this hotel remain at the same pace as was prevailing in 2021," IHI added. "Depending on the duration of this conflict, this may have an ad- verse effect on operations. Nega- tive effects on traffic patterns are possible and these could extend to neighbouring countries in which the group has operations. "Apart from business disrup- tions which may materially in- fluence the valuation of the hotel and commercial centre, this sit- uation materially increased the volatility of the Rouble exchange rate and may impact the amount reported in the group financial statements." CEO Simon Naudi said IHI's other investment in Moscow continues, namely a Corinthia Hotel & Residences development on the city's main boulevard. IHI has a 10% share – $6 million – in this project and will eventually also manage the 50-key boutique luxury hotel and provide brand- ing and service to the 100 resi- dential apartments planned for the site. "In 2021, discussions proceed- ed by this company with funding banks, authorities and contrac- tors with a view to commencing works later in 2022. The current situation in Russia means we will report back later in the year when a way forward may become clearer," Naudi said. At 31 December 2021, the IHI reported having access €165.1 million in total liquidity, com- prising €62.9 of undrawn facil- ities and €102.1m of cash bal- ances. "This strong position will also enable the Group to support its operations in St Petersburg which is operating in a curtailed environment following the im- position of international sanc- tions on Russia as a result of the conflict in Ukraine in 2022," IHI said.

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