Keith Schembri, the former OPM chief of staff, has been denied bail and will spend the night at the Corradino Correctional Facility over charges related to corruption, criminal conspiracy, and money laundering.
In court this evening, Magistrate Charmaine Galea also rejected bail for Schembri’s father, Alfio; Kasco CEO Malcolm Scerri; and accountant Robert Zammit. Their assets have also been frozen.
Earlier, all four were charged with money laundering and criminal conspiracy. Scerri was also charged with corruption, while Zammit was charged with breaching his duties as an accountant.
Elaine Mercieca Rizzo from the Attorney General’s Office argued that investigations into the inquiries remain underway and that there existed real concerns that the four could tamper with evidence or could flee.
Lawyer Edward Gatt, who was representing the four men, said Schembri had regularly cooperated with investigators, adding that he had always cooperated while under police bail.
“They have been obeying the court’s orders since 2017 – now that they’re charged there are suddenly fears that they could leave,” Gatt said.
The magistrate disagreed and denied the four men bail.
The men have been charged in relation to two magisterial inquiries.
One inquiry is related to allegations that Keith Schembri channelled over €650,000 to then-Allied Newspapers Managing Director Adrian Hillman in suspicious payments between 2011 and 2015 in a deal which saw his company, Kasco, supply a printing press to Times of Malta in 2018.
The other is related to a suspected passport kickbacks scheme between Schembri and Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna. According to a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through Pilatus Bank to Schembri.
Schembri has claimed that the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna while the former underwent separation proceedings.
Tonna was also charged this evening, along with Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter. They were also denied bail and had their assets frozen.
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