The Malta Independent 2 February 2023, Thursday
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Father and son acquitted of conspiring to import consignment of 15 million cigarettes

Gabriel Schembri Friday, 15 September 2017, 15:30 Last update: about 6 years ago

A father and a son who were facing charges related to the illegal importation of a large amount of cigarettes have been acquitted of conspiring in the deal. The father was however found guilty of charges related to forgery, false documentation and false declaration and was given a suspended sentence.

The Ciancos were both facing charges before Magistrate Consuel Scerri Herrera related to organised crime, conspiracy to commit crime, forgery and false declarations among others. The 64-year-old man and his son were facing a possible fine of Lm1.3 million after being charged with illegally importing a staggering 15 million cigarettes, the largest haul of contraband cigarettes in recent years. The items in question were seized by customs officials in 2005. The cigarettes were worth almost €600,000.


The two men had denied the charges against them and denied forging a public document and making malicious use of it to defraud the Maltese government. 

The bill of lading of the containers in which the contraband cigarettes were found named the two men as the rightful consignees. This bill claimed one of the containers was carrying promotional toys while the other was supposed to have been transporting giftware.

The sentence notes how “from the documents exhibited it does not transpire that the cigarettes were destined for the local market. The accused had asked for a change in destination from Malta to Felixstowe before the police intervened.”

“As Alex Montebello, CEO of Freeport stated, taxes are not due in Malta when the containers are in the Freeport for transhipment purposes,” the court added.

“The court is not saying that there is no crime because as it can be evidenced from an examination of this judgement the court is finding Arthur Cianco guilty of a number of charges, but it cannot find him guilty of importation since he never intended to import such merchandise into Malta."

Arthur Cianco was found guilty of the charges related to forgery, false documentation and false declaration but was acquitted of the charges related to conspiracy and illegal importation. The father was handed a suspended sentence of two years imprisonment suspended for four. The son was completely acquitted of the charges.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia appeared for Arthur Cianco while Kathleen Grima appeared for Aaron Cancio. The prosecution was led by police inspector Ian Abdilla.


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