The Malta Independent 14 April 2021, Wednesday

Darren Debono granted bail in fuel smuggling, money laundering case

Tuesday, 6 April 2021, 12:23 Last update: about 7 days ago

Darren Debono has been granted bail as he continues to face charges relating to international fuel smuggling and money laundering.

Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti – both of whom were former international football players – were arraigned in connection with the charges last November. 

Chetcuti had already been granted bail by the courts, but Debono was not as the compilation against both of them continued.

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He was granted bail by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech under a number of conditions, including a deposit of 50,000 and a personal guarantee of 200,000. He cannot go abroad and cannot approach the coast.

Several witnesses testified in court on Tuesday in the proceedings, including two officials from Senglea Athletic FC – the Premier League which, as revealed by The Malta Independent, Debono was helping out in.

The club’s treasurer Stephen Buttigieg said that both Debono and Chetcuti had brought several players into the club and paid them themselves.  The salaries varied from 700 to 2,000 per month, and that the club’s coach was also paid 2,400 by Debono.

He said that he had gotten to know them from the club’s annual general meeting in June 2019.

Flights and accommodation for players to go abroad were also mostly paid by the accused, with the payments being made directly to the players.  Buttigieg testified that in 2018 they did not have a bank account, and that he did not know how Debono used to make the payments – but that nobody had complained that they were not paid.

Buttigieg was also asked about 70,000 received by the club from a company called Coast Limited. 60,000 of this was a sponsorship, which ran from August to November.

Documents and emails, including correspondence with the Malta Football Association, were presented, and Buttigieg said that an application for a tax refund on the figure from Sport Malta was rejected as the figure was seen to be a bit on the high side.

Other witnesses included Julian Zammit – the director of Kitchen Concepts Limited, which owns a restaurant which was rented to Jeffrey Chetcuti – and Pierre Schembri, who was questioned under caution as he is still under investigation.

At the conclusion of the sitting, the prosecution said that it did not object to Debono being granted bail.

Debono was granted bail at the end of the sitting.

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