The Malta Independent 15 April 2021, Thursday

Enough evidence for Keith Schembri and associates to be placed under indictment

Monday, 5 April 2021, 14:36 Last update: about 9 days ago

The Court declared that there is enough evidence for Keith Schembri and his associates to be placed under a bill of indictment in connection with money laundering and corruption charges.

Earlier today Schembri and his associates were granted bail with a number of conditions. Keith Schembri - who served as the chief of staff for the Office of the Prime Minister when Joseph Muscat was leading the country - was granted bail against a deposit of €60,000 and a personal guarantee of €90,000. He has ordered to sign the bail book in Qawra.

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Malcolm Scerri, the CEO of Kasco Group, was given the same conditions and also not to go near coast, near the airport or any airfields.

Robert Zammit, Kasco's Financial Controller, also was granted bail. The Magistrate noted that he has a clean criminal record. He has to present a deposit of €40,000 and a personal guarantee of €150,000. She granted him bail on the condition that he does not leave Malta, approach witnesses, approach 100 metres of the airport or beaches. He also has to sign a bail book.

Today's sitting focused mainly on details of how investigations were handled by various Police Inspectors in a number of locations - the accused residences, offices and also the Times of Malta building.

The inspectors confirmed that the searches happened between September 2020 and March 2021. From the sites a good number of laptops, tablets, mobiles, USBs, money, jewellery and documents were seized.

During today's sitting inspectors presented a blue print document named ‘Progress Press Project', which apparently was compiled by Robert Zammit. This is according to the other accused Malcolm Scerri.

It was also confirmed that Keith Schembri during his statements to the Police, had confirmed that he had an account with Zenith Finance (MFSP) and told the Police that Brian Tonna administered his companies. Schembri also explained that his father, Alfio, would hand him cheques as a donation, him being an only child.

In other statements, Robert Zammit told the police that he would follow Scerri and Schembri's instructions. There was a lot of administrative work to be done including a lot of invoicing. KASCO would follow the advice of Nexia BT which would advise the company on how the money transfers should be made.

The agreement between Schembri, Adrian Hillman and Vince Buhagiar was a gentlemen's agreement and payments happened to be written on a document with a letterhead.

A court has heard how Progress Press - which is fully owned by Allied Group, which also runs the Times of Malta and the Sunday Times of Malta - ended up paying $6.5 million extra for printing machines with the money shared between Keith Schembri, Malcolm Scerri and Allied Group directors Adrian Hillman and Vince Buhagiar.

The Malta Independent on Sunday reported last weekend how Nexia International had disowned Brian Tonna and Karl Cini's company Nexia BT.  Both Tonna and Cini are currently facing charges in connection with the same case.

The newspaper also quoted PwC saying that, contrary to what had been heard in court, they had not audited the deal on the purchase of the printing press.

Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech praised the prosecution for the speed of its investigations. The next sitting will be held on May 11.

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