Ex-Kuoni PR boss Meriano faces trial on fraud charges

Former Kuoni Travel PR manager Gino Meriano is set to stand trial over charges of swindling £160,000-worth of holidays from the long haul tour operator.

Meriano will appear at Guildford Crown Court next month after being charged on 20 counts of obtaining money or holidays from Kuoni, for which he acted as PR spokesperson for more than three years.

The charges against Meriano were read out at a hearing held at Redhill Magistrates' Court last week.

Sharon O'Brien, prosecuting, is reported in the Dorking Advertiser to have said at the hearing that between 1997 and 2001, Meriano embarked on an elaborate spree of fraud that was premeditated and involved fictitious journalists. Meriano gave no plea.

Kuoni declined to comment on Meriano's departure or the case, but confirmed he has been replaced in the PR manager role by Anne-Marie Hansen.

Dorking-based Kuoni said in statement issued this week: 'Gino Meriano is being prosecuted by the police. Gino Meriano left Kuoni Travel on the 30 April 2000. While the investigation is in progress we have no further comment.'

Pleas are to be entered at the crown court hearing on 16 August.

Kuoni in the UK is part of the Swiss parent group of the same name. The company employs 7,500 staff in 300 offices across the world. The travel company was founded by Alfred Kuoni in Switzerland in 1906.

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