Former OPM chief of Staff Keith Schembri has been released on police bail after he was arrested and interrogated at the police headquarters on Tuesday.
Schembri, along with Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna, had all his financial assets frozen in a court decree issued by Madam Justice Edwina Grima on Monday.
It is understood that Tonna, as well as Karl Cini, another Nexia BT director, were also questioned under arrest by the police.
The assets of Schembri’s wife and his parents have also been frozen.
The three were questioned by the police after the court decreed that there was reasonable suspicion that Schembri is guilty of money laundering.
Schembri was seen leaving the police HQ at around 9pm after being held for over 20 hours. He is expected to return for further questioning.
By law, the police can keep a suspect for 48 hours, after which they have to charge or release that person.
The court issued the decree on the Attorney General’s request days after the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into whether the former prime minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, took a €100,000 kickback on passport sales.
The inquiry was based on a leaked FIAU report that raised suspicions about two €50,000 transactions that passed between the pair via Pilatus Bank.
Schembri was arrested after midnight at his Mellieha home.
His lawyers have now asked the court to order that Schembri be given a copy of the magisterial inquiry, MaltaToday reports.[embedded content]
Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo filed an urgent judicial application with the duty magistrate on Tuesday morning, in which they confirmed that Schembri was arrested at 12.30am and said he was denied access to his lawyers, the newspaper said
The newspaper stated that Schembri was informed that his arrest was linked to the concluded inquiry. The lawyers told MaltaToday that they asked the court to ensure their client’s rights are not breached, and to ensure that he is given full disclosure of the evidence the police have. the two asked the court to allow his lawyers access to him.
The lawyers were seen entering the police headquarters at around 2.30pm (video above).
They left around an hour later and, in comments to the press said that their client would not participate in the interrogation until the conclusions of the inquiry that triggered Schembri’s arrest are published.
Meanwhile, it was pointed out to this newsroom that Schembri has deleted his Facebook page, although his profile is still active. Until very recently, his profile listed him as working at the Office of the Prime Minister, although it is understood that this is because Schembri had not updated it after resigning in January of this year.
Videos: Giuseppe Attard
LIVE: We bring you another update from the Police’s headquarters in Floriana, where Keith Schembri remains under arrest.
Posted by Malta Independent on Tuesday, 22 September 2020