A magistrate has declared that there is enough evidence to indict Keith Schembri, the former OPM chief of staff, and his associates on charges of money laundering, corruption, and criminal conspiracy.
Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech issued the decree earlier today soon after granting Schembri and his associates bail.
Maltese law states that if a magistrate can see no prima facie evidence for the Attorney General to issue a bill of indictment within 30 days of the charges being filed in court, then the suspects would be discharged unconditionally and the police would have to present new evidence to charge them again.
This means that the magistrate feels there is enough evidence presented which could result in an indictment from the AG.
However, this does not mean the AG will issue an indictment just yet. It took almost 20 months for the AG to issue an indictment against Vince Muscat, George Degiorgio, and Alfred Degiorgio.
Schembri, his father Alfio, Kasco CEO Malcolm Scerri, and accountant Robert Zammit have been charged over two magisterial inquiries. The first is related to allegations that 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 2008.
An inspector explained how Times of Malta issued a tender for a new printing machine. Schembri’s company won the bid, having agreed with two directors of the company that he would overcharge more than €6.5 million so he can launder €5 million in kickbacks to himself and three others, Hillman, Scerri and Vince Buhagiar, with the aid of Nexia BT and MFSP (now Zenith).
Then Schembri went on to sell Allied Newspapers some €21 million in raw materials. And the company ended up having to wind most of its printing operations down and sell its property in Valletta.
Today, a court heard how police uncovered several devices when arresting the four men and other accomplices. However, one inspector revealed that MFSP’s Matthew Pace even refused to pass on the passwords of certain electronic devices.
The second magisterial inquiry 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.
A court has heard how, in total, the police analysed a total of 44 transactions out of a BTI account, owned by Brian Tonna, between 2015 and 2016, totaling around €600,000. They included payments to Schembri’s company Kasco Ltd. and other related firms.
The sitting has been adjourned to 11th May at 8.30am.
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