The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Police mum on possible inquiry linked to Italian money laundering investigation

Kevin Schembri Orland Tuesday, 26 March 2019, 11:49 Last update: about 5 months ago

The Maltese police have refused to answer questions about an Italian investigation into money laundering, in which Malta is allegedly connected, arguing that the police “cannot divulge any information of any ongoing Police investigations.”

Earlier this month, twelve suspects were detained in Italy by the Carabinieri as part of Operation Black Money for allegedly laundering a total of €75 million, €38 million of which allegedly passed through a number of countries including Malta.

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Italian media had reported that the investigations into the case began after suspicious movements were noted by the police at the post office in Cerea – a town in the province of Verona.  Investigators were able to establish that six cooperatives registered in Milan were using a complex mechanism of false invoices with the complicity of fictitious companies which were made to deceive the Italian Treasury.

The cooperatives reportedly worked with fictitious companies called “paper mills” – in that they exist only on paper, without an office, headed by a single nominee – which then issued high-cost invoices which were used to obtain tax refunds and compensation for social security contributions. Reports read that these were then paid into accounts of convenience companies, which used borrowers to clean the money. The money was then allegedly paid into a few current accounts, then taken out and handed over by them to “team leaders” who then took them over to the two administrators. Reports read that around €37 million was laundered out of the post offices of Verona, Brescia and Bergamo, whilst a further €38 million would be shipped abroad between China, Croatia, Hungary and Malta.

The Malta Independent sent a number of questions to the Malta police force following the publication of the Italian news articles.

The Maltese police were asked if they are investigating, if they are collaborating with the Italian authorities, whether there are any Maltese people involved, whether any arrests were made in Malta, whether any Maltese companies were involved and if yes what is being done.

The police declined to answer questions, however in their answer did indicate that a Maltese investigation is under way.

“Kindly note that the Malta Police cannot divulge any information of any ongoing Police investigations,” the police said in response to the aforementioned questions.

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