Josette Schembri, the wife of former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, has been granted bail after being charged with money laundering offences.
Schembri was charged in relation to her directorship of the company 3 City Design, which is part-owned by her husband’s Kasco Group.
She was charged alongside the company 3 City Designs Limited with, converting or transferring property they knew to have been obtained by criminal activity, covering up the true nature of the property, acquiring property known to have been obtained through criminal activity as well as attempting to undertake criminal activity.
Schembri alone was charged with breaching the Companies Act in her role as director of the company.
The prosecution said it would not request that the Schembri be detained in prison, but it did ask the court to impose strict conditions to ensure that she made no attempt to escape or tamper with evidence.
Schembri was told that she must appear for all sittings and cannot travel or leave Malta. She must also submit her ID card and passport and cannot approach any witnesses or members of the prosecution.
Schembri was also warned not to commit any other crime while out on bail.
She must sign a bail book at the Qawra police station four times a week and must be home between midnight and 6:30am every morning.
Bail was granted against a deposit of €10,000 and a personal guarantee of €40,000.
The sitting was a tense one during which the defence repeatedly accused the police and lawyer representing the attorney general’s office of abusing their power by dragging their client to court on “trumped-up charges”.
Throughout the sitting, lawyer Edward Gatt, who was appearing for Schembri, challenged the prosecution to state how much money Schembri was being accused of laundering. He also accused the prosecution of not having informed Schembri about what she was being charged with.
After initially refusing to answer the question, inspector Leanne Bugeja from the Financial Crime Investigations Department said the charges were based on suspicious transactions involving the company, which amounted to €1.5 million.
Gatt accused Bugeja of lying under oath when she said that Schembri had been given full disclosure about the charges against her, adding that the only thing she was being charged with was failing to hold company board meeting as often as required by the law.
Lawyers Edward Gatt, Veronique Dalli and Mark Vassallo appeared for Schembri, while magistrate Claire Stafrace Zammit presided.
The prosection was led by Antonice Borg Bonaci and Andrea Zammit from the Attorney General’s office with the assistance of Inspector Lianne Bonello and inspector Ian Camilleri.
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