Joseph Portelli, the Gozitan construction magnate and head of the Hamrun Spartans football club, could be facing criminal charges over his links to former superintendent Raymond Aquilina, sources have told Lovin Malta.
The Shift News have revealed that Portelli was interrogated under caution by police for several hours last week over his connections with Aquilina. Police are reportedly investigating property deals between Portelli and Aquilina’s parents, who would then donate the properties to Aquilina.
Sources have claimed that Portelli could be arraigned sometime this week, but this is still unconfirmed.
Aquilina was initially arrested on suspicions of leaking sensitive information from the investigation into Daphne Caruana Galizia’s assassination. However, further investigations have made police concerned over Aquilina’s links to financial crime and some of Malta’s most powerful businessmen.
It is understood that Portelli’s interrogation was not related to the murder of Caruana Galizia.
Aquilina, who first joined the police in 2004 to become a high ranking official in the Economic Crimes Unit, has risen to notoriety after featuring in the testimony of middleman-turned-state-witness Melvin Theuma in the proceedings against Yorgen Fenech, Alfred Degiorgio, George Degiorgio, and Vince Muscat over the murder.
Theuma has told the court that Fenech, who is the main suspect in the case, tried to assure the nervy middleman that a certain ‘Ray’ would be carrying out the arrest. Meanwhile, recordings show that Theuma’s confidante Johann Cremona, who is also a business partner of Fenech, told Theuma that Raymond Aquilina would be handling the arrest and ensure that police interrogation does not extend beyond money-laundering allegations.
Theuma has told the courts that the arrival of a different officer was the driving force in him revealing all his information to Homicide Superintendent Keith Arnaud.
Aquilina retired soon after Fenech’s arrest. He was among a host of top brass figures in the Economic Crimes Unit that were shifted out of the department, including Antonovich Muscat and Ian Abdilla, who still remains an Assistant Commissioner. The men were the main investigators in Operation Green, which is the name of the investigation into alleged money laundering and corruption following the reveal of the Panama Papers.
However, Aquilina was appointed as the manager of Enemalta’s internal audit and governance section. He was removed once he was named in the case.
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