The court has denied a request for bail by former Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna, Karl Cini and Manuel Castagna, as well as former Nexia BT manager Katrin Carter Bondin.
The decree was handed down at the end of the second sitting in the compilation of evidence against the four before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech. Lawyers representing the accused have requested that the case be referred to the First Hall of the Civil Court.
They argued that the fact that they are unable to appeal a bail decision means there is inequality of arms between the prosecution and the defence.
In their submissions on bail, lawyers for the accused argued that the evidence presented was all based on documentary evidence, as well as the findings of the two magisterial inquiries.
Furthermore, they stressed that their clients had cooperated with the police in all instances as had been confirmed by the inspectors who testified.
They stressed that bail was a right their clients were entitled to, especially when it appeared that the decision not to grant bail was rooted in the fact that investigations were ongoing, something which could not be helped by the defence.
They have been charged with a host of criminal charges stemming from two magisterial inquiries. The first was into the allegation that Tonna had transferred €100,000 in kickbacks from the sale of Maltese passports to former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
Both Tonna and Schembri claimed that the transferred funds were the repayment of a loan Schembri had given Tonna when the latter was going through separation proceedings.
The second investigation centred around €650,000 transferred from Schembri to former Allied Group managing partner Adrian Hillman.
Last week, the court heard how Schembri and his associates had defrauded the Allied Group out of some €5.5 million in a deal for a new printing press purchased by the company through Schembri’s Kasco Engineering back in 2011.
Both inquiries found Nexia BT to have played a central role in facilitating illegal activity.
Tonna and Cini specifically have been charged in relation to corruption accusations and giving false statements to the courts. Meanwhile, Tonna, Cini, and Castagna have also been charged with making false declarations to officials and forgery.
Last week, investigators told the court that while the first inquiry had not found any prima facie evidence of kickbacks, it had not found Schembri or Tonna’s testimony convincing, pointing out that neither of them could recall how or when the original €100,000 loan had been transferred to Tonna.
All four have pleaded not guilty.
Stephen Tonna Lowell is representing Tonna and Cini. Michael Sciriha and Matthew Xuereb are representing Manuel Castagna.
Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia are representing Bondin Carter.
Gianella De Marco is appearing for KTP Holdings.
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