Both the court and the defence have questioned the relevance of a large number of documents presented as evidence in the corruption and money laundering case against associates from Nexia BT.
The compilation of evidence against Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter continued today before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, with various representatives from the police and other regulatory agencies testifying before the court.
Tensions flared towards the end of the sitting when Emily Benson from the Malta Financial Services Authority was called to the stand. Benson, who was asked to testify about licenses held by the accused and the companies associated with them, confirmed to the court that only two of the companies held licenses that were supervised by the MFSA.
She brought three boxes full of documents that she intended to submit to the court, however, this was objected to by the magistrate.
“Each and every document submitted needs to provide information to substantiate a charge. I will not be appointing experts to carry out investigations that should have been carried out a priori,” magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, who is presiding over the case, said.
She pointed out that the witnesses had already told the court that there were two licenses that were supervised by the MFSA, adding that she would not be accepting the remaining documentation.
She called on the prosecution to “get its act together”, before Stephen Tonna Lowell, who is appearing for Tonna and Cini, noted that the issue of the relevance of the information submitted to the court was a recurring occurrence. This, he said, showed that there had been no proper investigation by the police prior to the accused being charged.
In fact, in practically every sitting so far, questions have been raised, both by the court and the defence about the relevance of the information being submitted.
“Now I’ll have to ask the court for three years to prepare my defence,” he said, referring to the vast amount of documents that would need to be analysed. “I’m quite sure nobody has looked at these documents.”
It was at this point that the witness told the court that it would be happy to communicate with the police to determine specifically what information they required. Tensions started to run high before the magistrate ordered all parties in the case into her chambers.
After some minutes of arguing the parties emerged and the sitting continued. The witness was called back and told by the court that, contrary to what had originally been stated by herself, the police had in fact been specific in their request for information from the MFSA.
All four have pleaded not guilty.
Stephen Tonna Lowell is representing Tonna and Cini. Michael Sciriha and Matthew Xuereb are representing Castagna.
Franco Debono is representing Bondin Carter.
Gianella De Marco is appearing for KBT Holdings.
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