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Russian Passport Buyers Probed By Inquiry Had No Idea About Kickback Allegations

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The three Russian nationals who purchased Maltese citizenship through Nexia BT in a transaction believed to have seen kickbacks passed on former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri had no idea about the allegations being made in Malta 

The compilation of evidence against former Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna, Karl Cini and Manuel Castagna, as well as manager Katrin Bondin Carter continued yesterday before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech. 

The court heard investigators explain their work as well as the findings of two magisterial inquiries on which the charges against the four are based. 

During cross-examination by lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell, who is appearing for Tonna and Cini, inspector Anne Marie Xuereb was asked whether the individuals who had purchased Maltese citizenship through Nexia BT, from which Schembri was alleged to have received kickbacks, were aware of the allegations surrounding their newly acquired citizenship. 

Xuereb said that the individuals had testified before the inquiry but neither of them was aware of the allegations. “One of them did say he found it strange that he was issued an invoice by Willerby Trade Inc however,” Xuereb said. 

Willerby Trade Inc is a company registered in British Virgin Island which Tonna is the only shareholder of. In the last sitting, the court heard how the inquiry had found that the income from the passports had been listed in the accounts for both BT International, the company authorised the act as an agent for the IIP, and Willerby Trade Inc. 

Tonna, Cini, Castagna and Bondin Carter were all denied bail after the court said it could not be guaranteed that no attempts would be made to subvert the course of justice. 

Their lawyers have requested a referral to the First Hall of the Civil Court over the matter, insisting that there was no legal reason for them to be denied bail. 

All four have been kept in prison for ten days since they were first charged.

A blow-by-blow account of the day’s proceedings can be found here.

Do you believe they had no idea?

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