Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter have been refused bail.
Magistrate Charmaine Galea rejected bail after their arraignment on money laundering charges, believed to be linked to two separate magisterial inquiries. Both inquiries were launched by former PN leader Simon Busuttil.
You can follow the sitting live over here.
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 Tonna.
Tonna and Cini specifically have been charged in relation to criminal conspiracy accusations and giving false statements to the courts. Meanwhile, Tonna, Cini, and Castagna have also been charged with making false declarations to officials and forgery.
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.
She reiterated that some of the four are charged with forgery and other offences related to false declarations.
However, lawyers of the four argued that they always respected conditions under police bail and should be granted bail.
The magistrate agreed with the prosecution. The court also did freeze their assets.
Stephen Tonna Lowell is representing Tonna and Cini. Michael Sciriha and Matthew Xuereb are representing Manuel Castagna. Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are representing Bondin Carter. Gianella de Marco is appearing on behalf of the companies.
The companies charged are:
Nexia BT, Nexia BT Limited, BT International Limited, Nexia BT Advisory Services Limited, BTI Services Limited, SPX, Willerby Trading, and KP Holdings.
Willerby, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna, was central to an alleged passport kickbacks scheme between Tonna and Keith Schembri.
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.
Schembri will be charged later tonight.
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