The Malta Independent 22 January 2021, Friday

Police arrest 15 in anti-money laundering operation

Thursday, 26 November 2020, 18:24 Last update: about 3 months ago

Police arrested a total of 15 people as part of an anti-money laundering operation in the past week, they said in a statement.

During this operation, the Police seized 36 vehicles, €60,000 in cash, a considerable amount of jewellery and designer clothes, electronic equipment which include among others, mobile phones, computers and servers and a large amount of documents, which are still being analysed.

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Whilst investigations into this case are still ongoing, five persons have already been charged in Court, with money laundering charges and other offences. Bail was denied and they are being held under preventive arrest at the Corradino Correctional Facility.

While the names were not published in the statement, they are of two former footballers Darren Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti – who were arraigned on Tuesday night and whose name and charges were initially banned from publication by the court, although that order was revoked on Thursday – and of Gordon Debono, his wife Yvette, and an associate named Shawn Higgins – who were arraigned on Wednesday.

Amongst those arrested was also lawyer Arthur Azzopardi.  He was released on police bail after spending the night in custody, and told the media that he welcomed police's questions and that he had nothing to hide.

It is not the first time that Darren Debono and Gordon Debono (no relation) have come under scrutiny; they were arrested in Italy in 2017 along with Libyan militia man Fahmi Ben Khalifa.

The three were suspected of forming part of a multi-million euro international fuel smuggling conspiracy with ties to the Italian mafia and Libyan armed groups.

In all, 15 legal persons (companies) were also charged in court with money laundering offences. The Court also ordered the freezing of their assets of both natural and legal persons.

Police said that these investigations are being coordinated with foreign partners, including Europol, US, Italian and British counterparts.

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