Panama Papers firm Nexia BT has been given a new licence requiring “high standards of conduct and compliance” to audit the internal IT systems and protocols of high-risk entities like cryptocurrency exchanges.

Nexia BT Technology, a Nexia BT offshoot company, was certified as meeting these standards by the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA), despite documented evidence of the parent company’s suspect offshore dealings on behalf of former government officials. 

Forensic analysis made public as part of the Egrant inquiry identified “evidence of suspicious transactions, concealed corporate relationships and other indications of probably money-laundering activities” in data seized from Nexia BT.

A spokesman for the MDIA said it was “unable to comment on the opinion expressed by experts in a magisterial inquiry”.

Nexia BT’s role in facilitating the Panama Papers scandal has done little to dim its prospects, as the firm continued to receive government contracts and operate with sanction. 

“To date, MDIA is not aware of any criminal proceedings or convictions or any administrative sanction resulting in suspension of activities, licences or warrants,” the spokesman noted about the lack of sanctions against Nexia BT. 

Resigned to avoid facing disciplinary proceedings

He said the MDIA “constantly and actively reviews its licence holders”.

“In the event of any convictions or sanctions against any of its licence holders MDIA reviews its position regarding its licencees.

“This applies to all MDIA approved systems auditors, their SMEs and associated individuals,” the spokesman added.

A month after gaining the MDIA certification, the company dropped the ‘Nexia’ reference in its name, changing it to NBT Technology, Malta Business Registry filings show. This is the second time the company has changed its name, having previously been known as BT C&R Services.

Nexia BT partner Karl Cini resigned as director, judicial and legal representative of BT C&R services last year. The Egrant inquiry found Cini “created” documents to back assertions that the mystery Panama company Egrant was owned by Nexia BT managing partner Brian Tonna.

Former magistrate Aaron Bugeja found prima facie evidence of perjury on Cini’s part and ordered a police investigation.

However, the magistrate instructed the forensic experts engaged as part of the inquiry not to pursue the money laundering red flags found in the Nexia BT data, as these fell outside of the inquiry’s parameters.

Both Cini and Tonna resigned from the Malta Institute of Accountants to avoid facing disciplinary proceedings in 2017.

Tonna was himself the subject of a magisterial inquiry into suspicions that a €100,000 kickback on passport sales passed between him and former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.

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