Keith Schembri, the prime minister’s former chief of staff, was remanded in custody on Saturday evening after being accused in court of money laundering, criminal conspiracy, fraud and forgery. He pleaded not guilty.

Schembri was among 11 people taken to court shortly after 5pm after a day of questioning by officers from the police financial crime unit. After the sitting he was taken to Corradino prison in a police van, eyes shut as the van was driven out of the law courts.

The co-accused included Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, Schembri’s business partner Malcolm Scerri and his father Alfio Schembri, who faced similar charges and were also denied bail.

Vince Buhagiar, former managing director of Allied Newspapers, was the only one given bail.

That brings our live blog to an end. You can read a report of the day's dramatic events here: Keith Schembri, others in prison as 'unprecedented' corruption cases unravel.

Thank you for following.

'From Castille to Kordin'

10.20pm: An image of the Auberge de Castille was projected onto the wall of the Corradino Correctional Facility as former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri arrived there on Saturday evening, having been denied bail over charges of corruption, money laundering and fraud.

Arraignments come to an end

10.15pm: There is some discussion over how Vince Buhagiar will post the €20,000 deposit with his assets frozen, before the issue is resolved. The marathon hearing then comes to an end. 

Allied Group statement

10.10pm Allied Group has issued a statement after its former managing director was arraigned.

"The Allied Group expresses its shock at the announcement that its former Managing Director, Vincent Buhagiar, has just been charged in court.

The group is also awaiting for official developments regarding Adrian Hillman.

The group will not be commenting further at this stage in order to allow all legal action to proceed in full serenity. As always, it remains committed to co-operating fully in any police investigations that there may be in this regard, as it did during the magisterial inquiry conducted by Magistrate Josette Demicoli."

'Daphne was right'

10.05pm: Keith Schembri has arrived in prison. He was greeted with shouts of: "Daphne kellha raġun" ("Daphne was right")

Buhagiar granted bail

10pm: The magistrate has returned. The court has noted the gravity of the case, but considers that the circumstances merit bail. 

Buhagiar is granted bail on the following conditions: to appear for all court hearings, not to go abroad, not to speak to any witnesses, to sign the bail book daily, to observe curfew between 10pm and 6am. Bail is granted against a deposit of €20,000 and a personal guarantee of €40,000.

He is the only one of today's 11 accused to be granted bail and will be released when the deposit is made.

Still following

9.55pm: Daphne Caruana Galizia's sisters are still here, having been following the hearing since the very beginning, as have lawyers and MPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Karol Aquilina.

Magistrate retires to decide on bail 

9.51pm: Dalli rebuts: Saying that Buhagiar ought to have known better, as the prosecution has done, is something that touches upon the merits of the case and will be tackled later in the proceedings.

That is the last argument of the day, as the magistrate rises and retires for the last time to decide on bail. 

'Emotional arguments'

9.45pm: Mercieca insists it is contemptuous of the court to quibble over Buhagiar being arraigned with the others, and arraigned last, as Dalli has done. The magistrate presided over all the arraignments, listening and delivering a studied decree in each case, Mercieca says.

"Why was Buhagiar arraigned? He was managing director, such high rank, but betrayed the trust of the companies that employed him. Although different charges, it’s nonetheless serious," she says.

Mercieca says the appeals about his health and surgery are emotional, and that there is no doubt that Buhagiar should be provided all medical assistance necessary in prison. She says she is not aware of any Covid-19 cases in the facility.

"When the offences occurred he was 64. He was mature enough to know what he was doing, betraying his employer’s trust. That makes his wrongful deed all the more serious. He wronged his employers and society at large."

'Justice does not draw distinctions'

9.36pm: Prosecuting lawyer Elaine Mercieca says justice does not make distinctions: "And I’d wish to leave here knowing that that is so."

Defence lawyer Dalli again makes reference to Tancred Tabone, as previous defence teams have done: he was granted bail and never spent any time in prison because of what his surname was, she says.

The two lawyers spar: Mercieca insists name-checking like this isn't acceptable, Dalli rebuts that in one case (the oil scandal) the sum in question was $300 million, in the one before the court it is a quarter of a million.

Dalli insists all evidence is preserved and tampering is impossible. He collaborated with the police she says.

Defence: Accused should not have been arraigned with others

9.30pm: Defence lawyer Veronique Dalli says Buhagiar is linked to one investigation sparked by conclusions of magisterial inquiry, and that the prosecution limited itself when issuing charges.

"Here we have a 73 year old, wife at home, all his assets in Malta," she says. "It’s a pity that Buhagiar was arraigned today with all the others. The prosecution itself made a distinction when arraigning him separately."

The charges, Dalli said, date back to 2009, when the offence was subject to a shorter period of prescription.

"The first time he was summoned by police was in 2017 to testify. He was a witness then. And everyone knows what was happening in the country in 2017," she says.

"Here we have a vulnerable person, a 73 year old, waiting for surgery, and should not even be outside at the moment. Let alone in a jail where COVID is rampant."

The charges attributed to him are not the same as those attributed to the others arraigned before, she insists.

Accused preparing for open heart surgery

9.25pm: The defence is putting questions to Inspector Joseph Xerri. 

She says the Buhagiar's charges emanate from one magisterial inquiry, not two, on allegations dating back years. 

The inspector confirms that all documentary evidence has been preserved.

The defence says Buhagiar had given adequate explanation for three particularly suspicious transactions; the inspector says this is true of two transactions, but that the third was not considered satisfactory.

The inspector confirms that investigations are closed in Buhagiar's regard but still ongoing in respect of third parties.

He confirms that Buhagiar has scheduled open heart surgery soon. 

He adds that Buhagiar was always punctual when summoned by police and cooperated, even until this morning.

Vince Buhagiar arraigned, pleads not guilty

9.10pm: Vince Buhagiar, former managing director of Allied Newspapers, is the last one in the dock. He is being represented by lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili.

He is charged with money laundering, criminal conspiracy, fraud and false declarations to Malta Enterprise and Customs. Speaking in a fragile voice, he pleads not guilty. 

The defence do not contest the freezing order.

The magistrate directs the accused to sit down as she reads out the terms of freezing and attachment order. It is the same as that issued to the other accused, including the annual allowance for the accused to lead a decent life.

The accused requests bail.

Accused led out

9.07pm: As the final sentence is read out, Falzon breaks down in tears. Pace, her co-accused tries to console her, embracing her in the dock. But the woman weeps as she is led away.

We await the final arraignment of the day, Vince Buhagiar, a former managing director of Allied Newspapers. 

Bail denied

9.05pm: Magistrate Chairmaine Galea reads out the decree. The alleged crimes are serious and in financial sector. The court needs assurance to grant bail, and lacking such assurance, denies bail since investigations still ongoing and third parties remain to be questioned.

Accused await bail verdict

9pm: Lorraine Falzon and Matthew Pace are awaiting a verdict on bail, which the eight previous accused have been denied. 

We are still awaiting one more person to be charged in this marathon sitting. 

'Magisterial inquiry wrapped up just days ago'

8.55pm: Prosecuting lawyer Elaine Mercieca rebuts: It’s absolutely not true that the court is handing over its power to the prosecution in matters of bail, she insists. Police officers today, she notes, have even testified in favour of the accused.

Moreover, saying that investigations are still ongoing is not a frivolous statement: one magisterial inquiry was wrapped up just days ago.

Edward Gatt rebuts: The prosecution is unfairly shifting the goal posts, he insists.

"Now they are insisting on fear of tampering with evidence. These people and their business, servers have been under close scrutiny for four years. They’ve been under the lens. What tampering!"

The magistrate has retired for a verdict on bail.

'What's the use?'

8.50pm: Defence lawyer Edward Gatt stands up to make his submissions. “Perhaps one might argue, what’s the use! But I think otherwise. Each case is separate and distinct," he says. 

He repeats his argument from earlier in the day: the police declaring that investigations are ongoing cannot be enough reason for bail to be denied. 

People arraigned over similar charges were granted bail, he says, name-checking Tancred Tabone, and never spent half an hour in jail. Why are his clients being treated differently?

"It's not a matter of science fiction," he says, referencing the magistrate's comments earlier. "I’m sorry if I was misunderstood."

"What will change if they are not granted bail? How will that change the documentary evidence gathered?"

Accused cooperated with police

8.45pm: Taking the stand, Inspector Keane Camilleri says the accused always turned up for police questioning and most documentary evidence had been gathered. Investigations against the pair were wrapped up but still ongoing in respect of third parties, while others had still to be questioned.

Freezing orders issued, accused request bail

8.40pm: As before, freezing orders have been issued against the accused, who have requested bail. The prosecution is objecting to the bail request for the same reasons, that the two are professionals and gateways to the financial system, who rather than abiding by their professional obligations, did the contrary. Moreover, investigations still ongoing.

Keith Schembri driven out of court


Video: Matthew Mirabelli.

Lorraine Falzon and Matthew Pace arraigned

8.30pm: Lorraine Falzon and Matthew Pace are now being arraigned. Their lawyers are Edward Gatt, Mark Vassallo, Ishmael Psaila and Shaun Zammit. 

They are being charged in their personal capacity and on behalf of the company Zenith Financing. The charges are linked to money laundering, accountancy law breaches and criminal conspiracy. 

Both plead not guilty.

Schembri led out in custody

8.20pm: Keith Schembri approaches his father, who seems extremely frail. They talk briefly to their lawyers, before being escorted out by officers.

'Not a fictional fear but a real one'

8.19pm: The magistrate says the charges involve money laundering and investigations are still ongoing. While it’s true that the accused abided by police bail, today their situation has changed, she says. "It’s not a science-fictional fear but a real one". And while it is true that Alfio Schembri has age considerations, he is nonetheless in the same position as the others. 

Keith Schembri denied bail

8.17pm Keith Schembri and the other three accused have been denied bail. 

Magistrate retires to deliberate on bail

8.02pm: After some concluding arguments, the magistrate has retired for a decision.

Defence: crimes may be time-barred

7.55pm: Defence lawyer Edward Gatt is making his final submissions. He says the maximum jail term envisaged for the charges is three years, and that it appears that all the alleged crimes considered may be time-barred. 

Why would Keith Schembri abscond now, he asks, growing extremely heated, when he has been toing and froing from police headquarters for months?

He waves the charges in one hand, saying he will have a "field day" ripping them apart. "This is Keith Schembri's justice," he exclaims.

Prosecuting lawyer Elaine Mercieca says shouting does not justify an argument.

Defence makes final bail submissions

7.50pm: Lawyer Edward Gatt makes the final submissions for the defence. He says his clients have been living these proceedings since 2017. The police, he says, have testified that they never had any fear of absconding.

He insists the accused have their entire lives in Malta, adding that Alfio Schembri is an elderly man, and that society would gain nothing from keeping any of the accused under arrest. 

"These cases rest on documentary evidence," he says. "What will change if they are granted bail today or within a week or some other time? Nothing. They will not abscond. Denying bail must be based on a real not hypothetical reason." 

Police bail was due to ongoing investigations

7.48pm: Superintendent Frank Anthony Tabone takes the witness stand next. He says he was part of the investigations from the very start, and that police bail had been granted because of ongoing investigations.

He is asked whether he would give police bail if he feared a person might abscond. He replies that the law allows no option if the 48-hour time limit (following an arrest) is exceeded. 

Accused cooperated with investigators

7.45pm: The prosecuting inspector is asked about the magisterial inquiry concerning the purchase of machinery at Allied Newspapers, events that occurred in 2010. 

She is asked whether she took the decision to grant Schembri police bail. She says she agreed to it because investigations were still ongoing. She never feared absconding, she says. 

She confirms that Schembri answered all questions, adding that he was "very talkative" and would sometimes have to be drawn back to the topic at hand. Alfio Schembri, she says, was somewhat hard of hearing, an issue noted by police during questioning. They always abided by police bail conditions. 

Defence lawyer Edward Gatt points out that the accused had known about investigations in their regard for a long time, owing in part to the extensive media coverage.

'Just extraordinary'


Submissions on bail

7.35pm: Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb is again summoned to testify. She confirms that she was involved in investigations against Keith and his father and that there was always cooperation on their part. They always answered questions and there was no difficulty in summoning them for questioning.

Defence requests bail

7.33pm: The defence has requested bail, to which the prosecution says it objects for the same reasons as before. 

Namely, the accused are alleged to have offered bribes, fabricated documents and made false statements to public authorities and false oaths when testifying before the inquiring magistrate.

They had assets abroad that may facilitate their escape. Moreover, the prosecution says, investigations still ongoing and some of the accused are very close to third parties who are still being investigated.

Freezing orders imposed

7.30pm The court has upheld attachment and freezing orders on all assets of accused, with the same order as before blocking all movable and immovable property. A standard allowance of 13,976 euros annually is granted. 

Keith Schembri pleads not guilty

7.25pm Keith Schembri has pleaded not guilty to all charges. The other accused also plead not guilty. 

Several companies represented by the accused are also facing charges. Alfio Schembri represents Kasco Holdings Ltd, while Scerri represents Kasco Ltd and Kasco Engineering Ltd, among others. Schembri himself is also representing a number of companies. 

All are pleading not guilty on behalf of the companies.

Keith Schembri arraigned

7.20pm Keith Schembri is in the hall and is being charged. Alongside him, also being charged, are his father Alfio Schembri, Malcolm Scerri and Robert Zammit. The magistrate reminds them of their right to remain silent.

They are charged with money laundering, criminal conspiracy, accountancy crimes and fraud. Keith Schembri is separately charged with corruption, false testimony and falsification. Zammit is charged with breaching accounting obligations.

Keith Schembri's lawyers enter the hall

7.13pm: Keith Schembri's lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo have entered the hall and taken up their place at the defence bench. We have no word yet but it seems like the former OPM chief of staff may be arraigned next.

'No guarantees can suffice'

7.05pm: No guarantees can suffice to provide the court with the peace of mind required to grant bail, the magistrate says. 

Katrin Bondin Carter breaks down in tears as her lawyers explain the implications of what the magistrate has just said.

All the defence lawyers are speaking with their clients in the dock. The accused seem dumbstruck.

Bail denied

7.03pm: Magistrate Charmaine Galea has returned and gives her verdict on bail. She says the crimes alleged are extremely serious, and that the position of the accused has changed from that of suspects, she is not assured that if granted bail they might not seek to tamper with the evidence or flee. 

All four are denied bail. 

Accused await bail verdict

7pm: As the accused await the magistrate's verdict, Beverley Tonna is comforted by her family beside the dock. Karl Cini is also seen weeping. 

‘A day of shame for Malta’

6.55pm Meanwhile, in a statement, ADPD chairperson Carmel Cacopardo said the developments in court today are proof that the institutions had failed.

“Action should have been taken by the state institutions, instead it was a magistrate's investigation of Simon Busuttil's supposedly 'empty' boxes which led to today's arraignments. Today is a day of shame for Malta," Cacopardo said.

Magistrate to decide on bail

6.50pm All arguments on bail have been made, and magistrate Charmaine Galea retires to chambers to decide. 

Comparisons to Yorgen Fenech case

6.47pm Prosecution's Elaine Mercieca notes that in the cases of Yorgen Fenech and the Degiorgio brothers, accused of the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, as well as drug kingpin Jordan Azzopardi, no bail was granted.

Investigations against these four accused, she says, have been concluded and the police is bound to press charges, but investigations into third parties were still ongoing. She drives this latter point home. 

As for the defence's comparisons to other cases, she says, there was there no attempt at fabrication of evidence, as there was here, nor were other investigations ongoing. 

The defence is not having it: Franco Debono says Jordan Azzopardi is facing the possibility of life imprisonment, and so the cases are not comparable. As of yesterday, he says again, the police had no problem with police bail for the suspects. 

Defence: No evidence of tampering, no fear of absconding

6.40pm Defence lawyer Franco Debono insists ongoing investigations had not prevented bail being issued in other money laundering cases. All criminal infringements are serious, but these crimes do not contemplate life imprisonment, he says.

Nor should there should be no fear of absconding as the prosecution itself acknowledged that the accused had abided by all police bail conditions. As for the issue of tampering, the accused had more than sufficient time to do so, but material evidence shows that nothing of the sort happened.

Finally, Debono argues, the law provides means to ensure that bail conditions are imposed to neutralise any fears.

Castagna 'simply an auditor'

6.30pmManuel Castagna's defence lawyer, Michael Schriha, argues that his client simply an auditor, is not facing all the charges the others are. All his assets are situated in Malta and he was simply a company director, Schriha says. The attachment order means that now he must find a way to earn a living. 

He argues that the cases are pinned on documentary evidence, which has already been gathered. All the accused, he says, satisfy the bail criteria laid down in the criminal code.  

Accused always respected bail

6.25pm: Consideration of bail is still ongoing and Inspector Keane Camileri is on the stand. Questioned by defence lawyer Franco Debono, he confirms that accused Katrin Bondin Carter was aware of investigations in her regard and that the police had never experienced any problems.

The inspector cannot confirm whether investigations regarding her are still ongoing, but says they are ongoing in respect of third parties, and that other people could yet be questioned. 

Defence lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell argues that the gravity of crimes alone does not suffice to deny bail. As for fear of absconding, he says, the accused have family and business in Malta.

They were hit by attachment orders last September and since then have been summoned and interrogated under police bail. They repaid the trust shown by police, and always abided by conditions imposed.

Investigations into third parties cannot be used to deny bail as that would set a dangerous precedent where defendants were at the mercy of when the prosecution chose to arraign them, he argues, insisting that the prosecuting inspectors' testimony has ruled out any fears in respect of bail.

Ongoing investigations

6.10pm Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb has taken the witness stand on the defence's request. She explains that the inquiry concerning Nexia BT began after a request by former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil. A second inquiry was also opened after an application by Busuttil.

She says the police interrogated Brian Tonna and Karl Cini on police bail several times since September 2020. They answered police questions, abided by bail conditions, and there is no information of any attempts to escape Malta or tamper with evidence.

But asked by the prosecution, the inspector says investigations are still ongoing, and involve third parties who may have ties with the accused. The witness steps off the stand.

Accused request bail

6pm: The four accused - Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Katrin Bondin Carter and Manuel Castagna - have requested bail. The prosecution objects on the basis of the gravity of the crimes, the fact that all are financial professionals, and the risk of absconding due to their companies and possible assets abroad.

Moreover, the prosecution says, investigations and magisterial inquiries are still ongoing, and there is evidence of attempted tampering to hide traces of the crimes.

Bernard Grech: 'Criminal clique'

5.55pm: PN leader Bernard Grech said Saturday’s developments confirm how a “criminal clique” had seized the Labour government, which then went on to take control of the institutions so as to evade justice.

“Today’s events confirm how the country needs to turn over a new leaf and close this dark chapter once and for all. This is another step to clean up our country’s name,” he said in a Facebook post.

Freezing orders issued

5.53pm: The magistrate takes note of the objections but nonetheless issues the freezing orders against the four accused.

There is an attachment order on all monies and properties, movable and immovable. All four can in no way transfer any of their property and are granted only an annual allowance of just over €13,000 in terms of law.

Prosecution requests freezing orders

5.50pm: Prosecuting lawyer Elaine Mercieca requests the court to issue freezing orders. The defence lawyers ask whether the prosecution is in a position to quantify the amounts related to the money laundering charges. Mercieca says it is not.

Franco Debono stands up to register an objection to the attachment and freezing orders, plus garnishee orders over all assets of the accused. All other lawyers agree.

Accused plead not guilty

5.45pm: Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Katrin Bondin Carter and Manuel Castagna all plead not guilty to the charges against them. All are facing charges of money laundering, while Tonna and Cini are also accused of criminal conspiracy with persons abroad, falsification and giving false testimony, among others.

Beverley Tonna pleads not guilty on behalf of KBT Holdings, the company she is representing. Karl Cini and Brian Tonna plead not guilty on behalf of all the companies they represent, including Nexia BT. 

Simon Busuttil: 'Historic turning point'

5.35pm: Simon Busuttil, who initiated the magisterial inquiry that has led to today's arraignments, called today "a historic turning point" and an "indictment of the entire Labour establishment".

Keith Schembri arrives in Valletta


Keith Schembri and others being brought into the court building. Video: Jonathan Borg.

Photo: Matthew Mirabelli.Photo: Matthew Mirabelli.

Arraignments begin

5.25pm: Magistrate Charmaine Galea has arrived and taken her seat and the arraignment of Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Katrin Bondin Carter and Manuel Castagna begins.

Tonna and Cini are also representing a number of companies among those being accused of offences, including Nexia BT and Willerby Trade. Beverley Tonna is appearing on behalf of another one of the accused companies. 

Accused begin to arrive

Karl Cini and Brian Tonna arriving at the law courts.Karl Cini and Brian Tonna arriving at the law courts.

5.05pm: Nexia BT auditors Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have been brought into the court building in police vans and have just entered the court room. Tonna's family are also here.

Katrin Bondin Carter and Manuel Castagna have been brought in and are first onto the dock with Tonna and Cini.  Defence lawyers Franco Debono, Stephen Tonna Lowell, Amadeus Cachia and Gianella De Marco are taking their seats. Michael Schriha and Matthew Xuereb are representing Castagna.

Separate arraignments

5pm: We're hearing that the arraignments are likely to take place separately. In the meantime, the defence lawyers are now filing in. We see Mark Vassallo and Edward Gatt, Keith Schembri's lawyers, as well as Stephen Tonna Lowell.

Key players arrive

4.45pm: Lawyers from the Attorney General's office have just arrived, led by Elaine Mercieca Rizzo, while lawyers and MPs Therese Comodini Cachia and Karol Aquilina have joined the Caruana Galizia sisters. Superintendent Frank Anthony Tabone and Inspectors Joseph Xerri and Anne Marie Xuereb join the prosecution bench. We are seeing the charge sheets being sorted by the prosecution, and they seem extensive.

Inside the court room

4.20pm: We are now in the gallery above the courtroom, which is still largely empty except for two of Daphne Caruana Galizia's sisters, who are here already. We do not yet know the exact details of the charges to be brought and whether the 11 individuals mentioned by police will be charged together or individually. Four chairs have been placed in the dock while others are positioned behind the wooden structure.


4.15pm: The arraignments will take place in Hall 22, one of the court's larger spaces, as the duty magistrate's usual hall was deemed too small for the 11 people due to be arraigned. Press and other observers will be asked to remain in the gallery. The hall has seen more use recently due to social distancing requirements, including the recent arraignment of the three men alleged to have supplied the bomb that killed Daphne Caruana Galizia.

4pm: Keith Schembri's lawyers have just been seen entering their offices behind the law courts in Valletta.

Keith Schembri's lawyers arriving at their offices close to the law courts in Valletta on Saturday.Keith Schembri's lawyers arriving at their offices close to the law courts in Valletta on Saturday.

3.55pm: NGO Repubblika said today's developments were a first but important step on a long and difficult road. "Today is not a day of celebration, because our country is gravely ill, but we must all recognise and thank those who worked and suffered to expose the sickness," Repubblika said, hailing the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia alongside the media, police and "those few public officials with the courage to fight for justice".

3.30pmThe Daphne Caruana Galizia foundation has welcomed Schembri's arraignment, which it said was overdue, having been revealed by the murdered journalist in March 2016. 

"The failure to prosecute Schembri five years ago allowed him to commit crimes related to Daphne’s assassination and her investigative work. Prosecuting Schembri today brings us a step closer to a Malta where no one is above the law. It is the country Daphne fought for and the one we all deserve."

Paul Caruana Galizia, the journalist's son, shared the last article his mother had uploaded minutes before her assassination. 

2.30pm: Police have now confirmed that 11 people will be arraigned before magistrate Charmaine Galea at 5pm in connection with the findings of two magisterial inquiries. Charges will also be brought against 20 companies. The charges include fraud, corruption, money laundering and others.  

2.20pm: We are now being told arraignments could take place at 5pm.

2pm: Hillman was not called in for questioning today because he is still in the UK. We tried to contact him as well as his lawyer a number of times on Saturday but there was no reply. We're informed he is likely to be extradited in the coming days. 

1.45pm: We are informed to expect arraignments around 4pm. 

12.15pm: The doors to the courts in Valletta have just opened. We are expecting arraignments this afternoon. It could be a long day.

11.35am: We are informed that arraignments are likely on Saturday. We still have no further details. 

11am: The armoured vehicle used to transport high value people to court has arrived and parked in the garage complex of the FCID building.

10.30am: Meanwhile, the court in Valletta remains shut... but we're informed that outside next to the Daphne Caruana Galizia makeshift memorial there is a preacher evangelising!

10am: Malcolm Scerri, an official in Keith Schembri's companies arrives. He says he has no idea if he will be arraigned. 

9.40am: Keith Schembri arrives at the police offices in Sta Venera for questioning. He refuses to comment.

9.10am: Vince Buhagiar, former managing director of Allied Newspapers Ltd arrives for questioning. He makes no comment. 

8.30am: Josette Schembri, the former chief of staff's wife arrives, unescorted. 

8.25am: Matthew Pace of financial services firm Zenith arrives. He also makes no comment. Pace is also a former member of Planning Authority board who resigned on an issue of conflict of interest.

8.23am: Brian Tonna of financial services firm Nexia BT arrives. He makes no comment and is followed shortly after by Karl Cini. 

8.13am: Edward Gatt, Keith Schembri's lawyer arrives at the offices of the financial crimes unit in Sta Venera. Asked if arraignments are expected today, he said the police would tell them later.

Charges expected to be based on magisterial inquiry

A number of individuals were called in to the police's financial crimes unit in Santa Venera earlier on Saturday. The first seen entering the building early on Saturday were Brian Tonna and Karl Cini of Nexia BT followed by officials from Zenith, another financial services firm.

The charges are believed to be mainly based on a magisterial inquiry requested by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil into alleged money transfers to Adrian Hillman, the former managing director of Allied Newspapers Ltd.

The case goes back to 2011-2015 when Schembri's company, Kasco, was awarded a multi-million contract for the supply of the printing press.

It is alleged that Schembri paid Hillman some €650,000 through offshore companies and accounts. The payments were made to Hillman’s offshore company Lester Holdings in the British Virgin Islands. 

The charges are believed to be mainly based on a magisterial inquiry requested by then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil into alleged money transfers to Adrian Hillman, the former managing director of Allied Newspapers Ltd.

The case goes back to 2011-2015 when Schembri's company, Kasco, was awarded a multi-million contract for the supply of the printing press.

It is alleged that Schembri paid Hillman some €650,000 through offshore companies and accounts. The payments were made to Hillman’s offshore company Lester Holdings in the British Virgin Islands. 

Schembri used companies based in Gibraltar and accounts in Switzerland as well as Pilatus Bank.

Schembri is denying wrongdoing and has filed a constitutional court request for the magisterial inquiry, conducted by Magistrate Josette Demicoli, to be annulled, claiming that important evidence was not considered and he was unfairly treated.  

Times of Malta reported earlier this month that the inquiry had recommended criminal charges be filed against Schembri and Hillman. It was the former chief of staff who confirmed his looming arraignment in a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday.

The inquiry started from a leaked Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit report which had detailed how Schembri allegedly filtered the money to Hillman in over 30 “suspicious transactions” between 2011 and 2015.

Hillman was also found to have deposited €225,000 in cash into his HSBC account between January 2011 and February 2016.

Hillman went on garden leave and the company severed all ties with him shortly afterwards.

Allied Newspapers Ltd, publishers of Times of Malta, has said it has no knowledge of the payments allegedly paid to its former managing director.

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