This week in court could be explosive with the former Financial Intelligence Analysis Unity Director who led investigations into Keith Schembri and Pilatus Bank set to testify.
Manfred Galdes will be speaking publicly since his sensational resignation. A silent figure ever since, it is rumoured that he stepped down following police inaction on the reports.
Meanwhile, the Head of Malta’s Security Service (the secret service) Joseph Bugeja is also making his way to court.
1. 20th January at 2:30 pm: Manfred Galdes Testifies
Manfred Galdes, the ex-director of the FIAU who authored damning reports into government corruption, will appear before the public inquiry next Monday 20th January at 2:30 pm.
At the start of April 2016, the police received an FIAU report authored by Galdes concerning two bank transactions of €50,000 each from a British Virgin Islands (BVI) registered company owned by Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna to Keith Schembri’s bank account at Pilatus Bank.
The payment came just as Nexia BT received payments from three Russian passport buyers, with the FIAU believing there was sufficient evidence to establish reasonable suspicion of money laundering and/ or the existence of proceeds of crime.
Schembri and Tonna have denied the claims. They’ve said it was Tonna repaying back a personal loan. However, authorities are yet to locate a receipt of the initial loan payment.
Three weeks after receiving the report, Police Commissioner Michael Cassar resigned from his post, citing ill health. Within a few months, Galdes had stepped down as FIAU director.
Galdes is also the author of a separate damning report into Pilatus Bank, where he flagged serious issues about their relationships with PEPs.
Rumours have suggested that the pair stepped down because of the lack of action against Schembri, Tonna, and former Minister Konrad Mizzi.
While Galdes has never confirmed or denied these rumours, Cassar requested that journalists’ leave the room when discussing the issue to the public inquiry.
2. Wednesday 22nd January at 2:00 pm: Malta’s Security Service Chief Faces Inquiry
The public inquiry will continue the following Wednesday with the head of Malta’s Security Services Joseph Bugeja appearing before the public inquiry.
The Security Services have had a unique role to play in the Caruana Galizia investigation, having briefed former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his then Chief of Staff Keith Schembri that Yorgen Fenech’s and Melvin Theuma’s phones were set to be tapped, at least a year before their eventual arrest.
Bugeja was promoted to the role after Cassar vacated the post pursue his short-term career as Police Commissioner.
With questions surrounding the protection of Caruana Galizia and any threats the authorities picked up swirling around the courtroom, Bugeja’s testimony could be intriguing.
Given the sensitivity of his role, there’s also a chance that this sitting takes place behind closed doors. The inquiry has the prerogative to hold the sittings confidentially. However, the Caruana Galizia family can be present.