Ex-Attorney General Peter Grech had advised Malta’s Accountancy Board not to take action on Nexia BT before investigations concluded.
This was revealed during a public inquiry sitting to assess whether late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder could have been prevented.
Accountancy Board Chairman Peter Baldacchino told the court today that ex-AG Grech advised the board not to pursue action until after the cases were concluded, in fear it could obstruct on-going proceedings against the firm.
He added that the board had received similar advice from private lawyers and their legal counsel Ivan Sammut.
Baldacchino was asked to provide written proof of this, while Judge Mallia mused that it felt like an excuse to do nothing.
Consultancy firm Nexia BT has come under fire ever since the Panama Papers scandal in 2016, which found that Nexia BT set up off-shore structures for Konrad Mizzi, Keith Schembri while they were in office under former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
It is also at the heart of money-laundering allegations linked to ex-OPM Chief-Of-Staff Keith Schembri. Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, and Manuel Castagna were arrested and released on police bail over the claims.
Cini, Tonna, Schembri, and Castagna were arrested last week in connection to money-laundering allegations. Their assets, as well as those of over 100 companies, were frozen by court order.
A leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) found that Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through Pilatus Bank to Schembri in what is believed to have been part of a passport kickbacks scheme.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing and said the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna by Schembri while the former underwent separation proceedings.
The loan was repaid through Willerby Trading, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna.
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 Accountancy Board has since removed their accountancy warrants.
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