Arthur Azzopardi, the high-profile lawyer who was arrested in relation to a suspected smuggling ring, has been released on police bail after spending the night under police custody.
He is now out as investigations continue into the smuggling operation that included two former national footballers. They were arrested in the early hours of Tuesday.
“I was not trying to hide anything because there was nothing to hide,” Azzopardi told MaltaToday upon his release. “I actually welcome the police’s questions and have given them all the KYC (know your client) information and relevant paperwork that I had in connection with my clients.”
The names of the two other men involved can no longer be reported under court order.
They have been charged with money laundering and smuggling offences.Well-informed sources have told Lovin Malta that the investigation involves major findings in a FIAU report on Satabank.
After the bank effectively shut its doors in 2018, the report flagged “highly suspicious” payments and financial movements between suspected organised crime groups, including alleged fuel smugglers.
A probe identified a series of payments amounting to €1.9 million between suspected oil smugglers to Arthur Azzopardi. When the details of the probe were revealed in 2019, Azzopardi insisted that the funds were transferred on behalf of his client and that police had not questioned him.Azzopardi is one of the most popular lawyers in the country.
Beyond the links to this case, Azzopardi has also been outed as a former freemason and has close ties to the Daphne Caruana Galizia investigation.Azzopardi was the lawyer of Vince Muscat, one of the three men charged with assassinating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
Azzopardi was only Muscat’s lawyer for around three months, taking on his client in July 2019 and dumping him around 28th October 2019, just as police were gearing up for the arrests of Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech.A plea bargaining document for Muscat, led by Azzopardi, somehow ended up in the possession of Theuma, sources have told Lovin Malta.