Financial practitioner Matthew Pace was described as a professional money launderer by a court expert appointed in the Keith Schembri-Adrian Hillman magisterial inquiry.
Pace, along with Lorraine Falzon, a director at the firm, appeared today before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech for the first sitting in the compilation of evidence against them.
They have both pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and corruption amongst others.
Pace is the owner of the financial services firm Zenith, previously MFSP Finance. Falzon is a director and the firm’s money laundering reporting officer.
Two inspectors exhibited evidence which mainly consisted of documents obtained by the magisterial inquiry as well as transcripts of the statements they had given the police.
Inspector Camilleri, who was the first to take the stand, 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.
The inquiry 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.
The court heard how the firm had updated Schembri’s risk profile to ‘medium to high risk’ after he was appointed chief of staff to the Prime Minister in 2013. No further changes were made to his risk profile after the release of the Panama Papers, the court heard.
At the end of the sitting, their lawyer Edward Gatt, appealed for bail for his two clients, insisting that the charges against them did not merit their continued detainment.
More importantly, he said there was no fear of them absconding or tampering with evidence. The prosecution insisted however that given that investigations were still ongoing, that there was a risk that they could tamper with evidence.
The magistrate said she would take note of the arguments made by both sides and give her decision at 8:30am tomorrow.
A blow-by-blow of today’s sitting can be found here