MEP David Casa is demanding on Malta’s Accountancy Board to finally revoke the accountancy warrants of Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, following their arrests in connection to kickbacks from the citizenship-by-investment scheme.
“It is quite surreal that despite the overwhelming evidence in the public domain of criminal activity facilitated by Tonna and Cini, they continue possess accountancy warrants,” Casa wrote in a letter to Chairman Peter Baldacchino and the rest of the board.
Casa revealed he had made repeated requests to do so. However, the only action taken by the board was earlier this year, and only included a reprimand against Nexia BT for failing to carry out a statutory audit.
“The inaction of the board raises serious doubts on whether the Board is at all capable of performing its functions. It has failed to protect in integrity of the accountancy profession in Malta,” he continued.
Cini and Tonna were arrested earlier today, along with the former Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. They have all had their assets frozen, as have over 100 companies, and the people linked to them.
According to a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through the now-closed Pilatus Bank to Schembri.
Schembri is facing allegations that the payments were kickbacks related to the sale of Maltese citizenship to a family of three Russian nationals.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing, with Schembri claiming that the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna while the former underwent separation proceedings.
The loan was repaid through Willerby Trading, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna. Willerby Trading is named in the court order.
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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