Keith Schembri’s lawyers have filed another application demanding the courts temporarily unfreeze assets to pay off the salaries of his companies employees.
A similar request from six of Schembri’s companies was filed yesterday. However, today’s involved 79 private individuals who work for him. The lawyers argue that the staff are unable to receive their salaries, which are vital for their and their families day-to-day living.
On Monday, assets of Keith Schembri, as well as over 100 companies, individuals and even young children were frozen. Schembri was arrested over money-laundering allegations involving kickbacks from the investment-for-citizenship scheme launched under former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat.
Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo claim that the order infringes on the employees’ fundamental rights. They are demanding the freezing order not apply to the salaries.
Schembri, as well as Brian Tonna and Karl Cini of Nexia BT, also allegedly involved in the financial crime, have since been released on police bail.
This came after an inquiry into alleged kickbacks from the citizenship-by-investment scheme. Schembri was reportedly “given the disclosure of evidence” before being released, meaning he was given access to the conclusions of a magisterial inquiry into the alleged money laundering. The inquiry was concluded earlier this month
According to a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through Pilatus Bank to Schembri in what is believed to have been part of a kickbacks scheme.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing and said the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna by Schembri while the former underwent separation proceedings.
The loan was repaid through Willerby Trading, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna.
The same FIAU report also raised suspicions of the loan document presented to the bank to justify the payments after finding no trace of the original loan payment by Schembri to Tonna.
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