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How Malta’s Courts Let Suspected Fuel Smugglers Get Away With €2.8 Million

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Gordon and Yvette Debono have been arrested and charged among a slew of others linked to a major smuggling operation. However, a little over a year ago, Malta’s courts gave the green light for €2.8 Million transfer between their offshore accounts.

The issue first erupted on 2nd July 2019 after Judge Francesco Depasquale handed down a judgment sanctioning the release of €1.5 million from a Belize-based company called Oil and Ship Consultancy Limited, owned by Gordon Debono, to the Dubai-based International Properties and Investments Limited, owned by Yvette Deobono.

As detailed in an initial report by The Shift News, Yvette Debono claimed the fees were related to a loan dished out by the company.

Malta’s Financial Services Authority did attempt to appeal the transfer. However, in November 2019, a court of appeals approved the 1.5 million transfer ruling that Maltese courts were obliged to enforce the Cypriot court decision of July 2018, as per EU law. The court had determined that the debt was legitimate.

That same month another court approved a €1.3 million transfer between the two companies.

According to the original decision, a loan agreement was created on 4th September 2017 between Oil and Ship Consultancy and International Properties and Investment. After filing a court action in the district court of Paphos, the parties reached a court settlement for €1.5 million and 3.5% interest.

The €1.3 million loan agreement was also created on 4th September 2017 and follows a similar arrangement.

The loan agreements were created a month before Debono’s arrest in Sicily in connection to fuel smuggling. Yvette Debono acquired the Dubai company as a shell company in March 2018 from a corporate service provider.

With the help of local lawyers Norval Desira (representing Yvette Debono) and Roberto Montalto (representing Gordon Debono), the pair were able to take their claims to a Maltese court and walk away with millions.

A year later, the Debonos have been charged in court on a series on smuggling and anti-money laundering charges that could involve millions.

Gordon Debono has long been linked to fuel smuggling. He has previously been accused, along with Darren Debono, 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.

Debono has been in the news before, Last year, a probe into Satabank identified a series of payments amounting to €1.9 million between Gordon Debono and lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, who is out on police bail.

Sources have told Lovin Malta that the probe was central to investigations.

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