Zenith Connect, a company owned by Zenith Finance’s “professional money launderer” Matthew Pace and Lorraine Falzon, has bid for a government tender amid grave criminal charges and freezing orders.
Malta’s Statistics Authority released the tender on 4th March 2021 for the provision of call centre services for a 2021 census of population and housing. It will cover the entire telecommunication industry. The value of the project was not disclosed. The call for applications was closed on 29th March and the tendering process began that day.
Pace and Falzon were arrested and charged on 20th March as part of a money laundering and corruption investigation concerning former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. A court had ordered their assets be frozen, particularly those of Zenith Finance. Police inspectors have described Pace as a “professional money launderer”. in court.
Zenith Finance and Zenith TTI were barred from taking on new clients, providing new services, and ordered to cease all outgoing transitions. The courts appointed Hector J. Spiteri administrator. Pace and Falzon resigned from the roles as directors but remain the main shareholders.
Zenith Connect is owned by Zenith Consultants, which is wholly owned by Pace and Falzon, and Ian Paul Schembri. Pace, Falzon, and Schembri are all directors at Zenneth Connect. The company is listed as being part of the Zenith Group, which involves Zenith Finance.
Well-informed sources have suggested that Zenith Connect is eligible to apply for the tender, however, questions were raised if the bid was even appropriate given the serious allegations against the pair.
The pair were released on bail on 26th March 2021, a week before the tender was issued. They have been charged in related to an inquiry concerning an alleged million euro kickback scheme concerning Allied Newspapers’ purchase of printing equipment from Schembri’s KASCO. They face accusations of money laundering, false declarations, and criminal conspiracy.
Investigations found that Schembri, former Allied Newspapers managing partners Adrian Hillman and Vince Buhagiar, Kasco Group CEO Malcolm Scerri had all opened accounts at MFSP at roughly the same time, between 2010 and early 2011.
Inspector Ian Camilleri has described how €650,000 had been deposited in client accounts held by MFSP in order to be reinvested. The funds were transferred to another account held by Schembri and then passed to other accounts.
Police have also raised suspicions over Pace and Falzon’s involvement with providing false declarations and backdating documents.
Falzon and Pace will be back in court on 12th May at 1pm.
Should the company be allowed to bid for a tender?