Malta, former Chief of Staff at the OPM arrested
LA VALLETTA (MALTA) (ITALPRESS/MNA) – Malta, former Chief of Staff at the OPM arrested over alleged bribery and money laundering Keith Schembri, the former chief of staff at the Office of the Maltese Prime Minister has been arrested as part of an investigation on bribery and money laundering allegations in connection to the selling of Maltese passport.
Keith Schembri was arrested at 12.30am last night while he was at his private residence in Mellie?a. He is being interrogated at the Police Headquarters. The police also detained Brian Tonna and Karl Cini from the financial advisory firm Nexia BT amongst others, the agents for the selling of Maltese citizenship to a family of three Russian nationals. The Panama Papers revealed that Nexia BT was responsible for the setting up of secret companies for Keith Schembri and former Labour government Minister Konrad Mizzi.
On Monday, Madam Justice Edwina Grima issued an order to freeze all assets held by Keith Schembri, his wife and one of his two daughters, among others. The lengthy list includes Nexia BT and its partners. The court concluded that there is reasonable suspicion that money laundering offences have been committed. The order followed a request by the Attorney General to freeze the assets of 40 individuals and several companies. Several companies were given 24 hours to comply with the order and to notify the Attorney General of all possessions of the defendants, together with any goods, accounts, services or safety deposit boxes they have with financial institutions.
The application comes days after the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into whether Schembri took a 100,000 kickback on passport sales. The inquiry was based on a leaked report compiled by the Financial Intelligence Agency Unit.
Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg has refused to hand over a copy of the inquiry report into allegations of bribery between Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna to former Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil who triggered the investigation in April 2017.