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Former Footballers Charged Over Smuggling Operation With Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi Also Arrested

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Former footballers Darren Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti have been charged in connection with money-laundering and smuggling offences, with several others, including major lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, being arrested.

Times of Malta has revealed that the police raids were conducted over Monday night and Tuesday morning. Debono and Chetcuti were charged on Monday and have been denied bail.

Darren Debono has previously been accused of being part of a fuel smuggling operation in the Mediterranean and has fallen under strong US sanctions. He was once arrested in 2017 after Libyan fuel smuggler Fahmi Slim Bin Khalifa was apprehended.

Around 10 people have been arrested in total, including Azzopardi and accountant Chris Baldacchino.

Times of Malta has previously reported in a  months-long probe into the now-closed Satabank.  A probe identified a series of payments amounting to €1.9 million made to Azzopardi.

Azzopardi was the lawyer of Vince Muscat, one of the three men charged with assassinating journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Azzopardi was only Muscat’s lawyer for around three months, taking on his client in July 2019 and dumping him around 28th October 2019, just as police were gearing up for the arrests of Melvin Theuma and Yorgen Fenech.

A plea bargaining document for Muscat, led by Azzopardi, somehow ended up in the possession on Theuma, sources have told Lovin Malta.

Chris Baldacchino & Associates was also recently fined €58,900 over anti-money-laundering issues.

With regards to Debono, an associate also facing fuel smuggling operations, Gordon Debono (no relation) was able to pass through €1.5 million to his accounts from a Dubai-based company owned by his wife, Yvette. They were able to do so on court appeal.

In October, a judge had ordered the Bank of Valletta to release €296,000 in funds belonging to Darren Debono, which had been frozen under American sanctions.

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