The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Maltese police have been asked to investigate two companies linked to former EU Commissioner John Dalli by a group of American investors who say they have been swindled out of their money.
The alleged scam involves two companies registered at Mr Dalli's Portomaso address: Tyre Limited and Corporate Group. The two directors and shareholders of the latter company are John Dalli's daughters.
The group of American southern Christian investors were told that their money would be used to fund African miners who were unable to get financing from the banks.
By playing on their Christian sensibilities, they were led to believe that part of the funds would be used to help orphans in Africa and The Philippines.
Michael Brady, who represents a group of eight investors who lost $600,000 in the scam, told The Malta Independent on Sunday that the investment plan was offered to them by an intermediary acting on behalf of international fraudster Mary Swan, who also goes by the aliases of Emma Corbin and Lady Bird among others.
Ms Swan is believed to have operated from a Sliema apartment for several years before leaving country.
Money wired to company based in Dalli's office
Each of the eight investors wired their share of the money to an HSBC account owned by Corporate Group, which is operated by Mr Dalli's daughters Claire Gauci Borda and Louisa Dalli.
"At the time of wiring the funds, our group was under the understanding that their funds were being wired to a company know as Tyre Limited, which is located in Malta and whose business address is or was John Dalli's personal residence. Claire Gauci Borda was [also] a director of Tyre at the time," Mr Brady said in his letter to the FBI and the Maltese police.
The duped investors only got to know of each other after they lost their money, as one of the conditions of investing was that the investment had to be kept quiet.
Tyre Limited was the company used to rent a Bahamas villa in the summer of 2012 to which Mr Dalli, then the EU's Health Commissioner, made several undeclared trips. Mr Dalli's other daughter, Louisa Dalli, was also a company director and accountant.
Mr Dalli rushed off to the Bahamas for a weekend in July 2012, shortly after he found out about an investigation by the EU's anti-fraud office, Olaf, over his dealings with the tobacco lobby.
Olaf is now looking into Mr Dalli's secret Bahamas trip, and in the course of its investigation has questioned key witnesses about Mr Dalli's links to fraudster Mary Swan and Tyre Limited.
A meeting of fraudsters
This was not Mr Dalli's only trip to the Bahamas during his tenure as EU Commissioner. Mr Dalli met international fraudster Mary Swann in the Bahamas during another trip on 26-27 August 2012.
Photographs given to The Malta Independent on Sunday by Mr Brady show Mr Dalli slouched on a sofa with fraudster Mary Swan on his right and his daughter Louisa Dalli on his left.
Ms Swan was not the only fraudster present at this August 2012 meeting. Mel Tari, an evangelical preacher who was found guilty of conning an heiress out of half a million dollars was also pictured with Mr Dalli.
Barry Connor, the owner of the villa rented by Tyre Limited, also appears in the photograph.
It was Mr Connor who first spoke to the international media about Mr Dalli's plans to transfer "large amounts" of money to the Bahamas.
Mr Brady explains in the letter to the FBI and the Maltese police that he was present for the August Bahamas meeting "in an effort to secure funding for a humanitarian project that never came to fruition".
He told The Malta Independent on Sunday that they were under strict instructions from Mary Swan not to take any pictures during their stay at the villa rented by Mr Dalli's daughter.
The pictures given to The Malta Independent on Sunday were taken at Barry Connor's private residence on Paradise Island, when Ms Swann appeared to have dropped her guard during a casual dinner.
Dalli's daughter tells scammed investors not to contact the media
Regina Hayes - one of the investors represented by Mr Brady - told this newspaper that the instructions on how and where to wire the money were given by Claire Gauci Borda.
Ms Hayes - a pensioner - wired $75,000, her life savings to an HSBC account in Malta and received confirmation from Ms Gauci Borda that the money had been received.
She considers herself to be one of the luckier investors, as she chose to receive a monthly payment issued through the company overseen by Ms Gauci Borda, while other investors instead chose to roll over their funds.
The monthly payments stopped in September 2013, and since then all the investors have faced an uphill struggle in order in their efforts to ascertain what has become of their money.
All the payments bar one came from the HSBC Malta account owned by Corporate Group. The final payment received by Ms Hayes originated from a Lloyd's Bank of London account and was signed by Caroline Zuck, the wife of Tyre Limited's new director Martin Zuck.
"This had led us to believe that Tyre Limited and the Zucks are involved in this fraud," Mr Brady says.
Mr Brady explains that Debbie Wicker - the person who was in contact with Mary Swan and promoted the investment in the US - would fly to Malta monthly to meet with Ms Gauci Borda in order to discuss the progress of the investment.
Mr Brady told the FBI and the Maltese police that Ms Wicker received a salary for overseeing the fund, known as the 'gold pool'.
"She did so until October 2013, when she made the announcement that she was resigning her position as of the end of 2013 and advised all to withdraw their investments as quickly as possible.
"The reason she gave was that she had found out that Lady Bird (alias Mary Swan) was a fraud and was not a granddaughter of the Asian/Chinese gold family which she had claimed to be during the time of their friendship. She had told us that Mary Swan had fired Claire [Gauci Borda] from her duties and that there would not be any accountability for their investment," Mr Brady explained.
'Involving third parties would result in everybody losing everything' - Dalli's daughter
Mr Brady told the FBI and police that the eight investors he represents have a year's worth of email communications from both Mr Wicker and Ms Gauci Borda, in which the two tried to "pacify them with false information" as well as warn them not to go to the authorities lest they lose their investment.
In one email correspondence between the group of investors and the former EU Commissioner's daughter, Ms Gauci Borda warns that involving "third parties would result in everybody losing everything".
"On my part I would like to state that in the first place I empathise with your group and that is why I offered to help. Secondly, I am fed up with people trying to involve my family and me in these problems.
"You know the defamatory attacks on my father and therefore we do not take kindly to insinuations of involvement of my family in these issues. My father is determined to take legal action against any defamatory attempts," Ms Gauci Borda threatened.
Tyre Limited appoints dubious directors in December 2014
As previously reported by this newspaper, Tyre Limited went on to appoint another shady director in December 2014. Robert Mitchell McIvor has been involved in the highly dubious operations of the Exousia Foundation and the China Foundation, where he was associated with Charles Spradlin and Robert Earl Palm.
While the Exousia Foundation has now reportedly been dissolved, the man appointed as a new director of Tyre Limited, Robert Mitchell McIvor, had served as its chief financial officer and director.
According to Canadian press reports from 2010, Robert Mitchell McIvor and Robert Palm, a former Pentecostal minister - both from British Columbia - are key figures in two highly dubious Christian humanitarian foundations based in Indiana, USA.
In the mid 1990s, Mr Palm had masterminded a 'humanitarian scheme' that defrauded Polish farmers of $37.3 million. Polish prosecutors criminally charged him, but were unable to arrest him because Canada did not have an extradition treaty with Poland.
The farmers sued Mr Palm in the British Columbian Supreme Court and were awarded the full $37.3 million, but were reportedly never able to collect. Mr McIvor had been implicated in the scheme, but was neither criminally charged nor named as a defendant in the civil action.