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Keith Schembri Under Arrest After Assets Frozen

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Former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri is under arrest, Lovin Malta can confirm.

Net News has reported that Schembri and several other people linked to yesterday’s court-ordered freezing of assets are also under arrest. Lovin Malta has confirmed that Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have been arrested.

The assets have been frozen on suspicion from money laundering. A magisterial inquiry into a passport kickbacks scheme between the two men was recently concluded. The Attorney General did not publish its conclusions.

According to a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through Pilatus Bank to Schembri.

Schembri is facing allegations that the payments were kickbacks related to the sale of Maltese citizenship to a family of three Russian nationals.

Both men have denied any wrongdoing, with Schembri claiming that the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna while the former underwent separation proceedings.

The loan was repaid through Willerby Trading, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna. Willerby Trading is named in the court order.

The same FIAU report also raised suspicions of the loan document presented to the bank to justify the payments after finding no trace of the original loan payment by Schembri to Tonna.

The court’s decision comes just a matter of days after Times of Malta revealed Nexia BT would be hiving off much of its operations to another company.

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