Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder suspects should not have been able to live the lavish lifestyle they did, the managing partner and senior investigator of a global law firm specialising in asset recovery have warned.
“The subsequent investigation [into Caruana Galizia’s murder] appears to have experienced some severe shortcomings, including the fact that the three suspects have questionable sources of income, with one enjoying a lavish lifestyle despite being unemployed or lowly paid,” Martin Kenney and Tony McClements wrote in an opinion piece for EUObserver.
Kenney is managing partner of Martin Kenney & Co. Solicitors, a BVI-based law firm which claims to have an unrivalled rate of success in global asset recovery, while McClements is a senior investigator at the same law firm.
Murder suspects George Degiorgio, his brother Alfred Degiorgio and Vince Muscat were all legally unemployed, and the Degiorgios actually received government benefits, but they are suspected of having made a career out of crime.
After they were charged with Caruana Galizia’s murder, it emerged that the Degiorgios lived lavish lifestyles, owning luxury cars and pleasure boats, going on holiday to places like Montecarlo, and sending their children to a private school. A photo of a Corvette, worth several thousands of euro, was actually posted on Facebook by one of George Degiorgio’s relatives.
The Degiorgios, as well as George Degiorgio’s wife, were subsequently charged with money laundering, while Vince Muscat was investigated but never prosecuted.
Kenney and McClements said financial crime investigative measures are now embedded into the fabric of most major police investigations.
“The teams undertaking investigations into serious and organised crime, including murder, have an embedded financial investigator or access to the same,” they wrote. “In the UK for example, senior detectives must receive financial investigation input as part of their Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) training and accreditation process, in order to raise their awareness of how powerful a tool it can be.”
“By following the money and identifying criminal assets, the police can very quickly identify motive, and in some instances, who has been paid to undertake the crime concerned.”
“The ensuing money laundering process can drag other individuals into the investigative mix. In effect, financial investigation should be close to the core of all major criminal enquiries.”
They noted that Malta’s money laundering regime recently failed a Moneyval review and was a given a year by the international monitoring body to improve its system or risk blacklisting procedures. Moneyval was particularly critical of Malta’s police force, warning that the number of prosecutions for money laundering are not in line with the country’s risk profile.
“Those of us whose professional life revolves around the investigation of international fraud and corruption will appreciate that there can be little excuse for the Maltese government to allow its police force to fall into such disrepute,” Kenney and McClements wrote. “Malta finds itself on the cusp of being financially blacklisted, which for a small island and economy could be devastating.”
“In this day and age, the Maltese police cannot be seen to be hiding (or being hindered) behind a lack of training and resource issues. This report should serve as a wake up call for the Maltese government.”