Police are investigating a claim peddled by former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri that Lands Authority CEO James Piscopo hid upwards of €600,000 in an offshore account at an overseas bank.

Multiple sources told Times of Malta that Schembri used murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to try to get the claim published in the media around January 2019.

The sources said Schembri passed on a handwritten note to Fenech – purportedly written by Piscopo – detailing movements in the account between 2015 and 2016, which was then passed on to the murder suspect’s contacts in the media. Sources said police investigators are still trying to verify whether there is any truth to the claim pushed by Schembri.

One source said the authorities had reached out to foreign partners to try to establish if the transactions in questions took place, and if Piscopo was a beneficiary to the funds.

The handwritten note indicated that the funds were held at the Jersey-based Fairbairn Private Bank.

Piscopo denied having any link to these funds when contacted by Times of Malta.

He declined to “speculate” whether the story was peddled by Schembri when asked. However, he confirmed receiving questions from journalists about the matter last year.

The police had directed him not to comment

When contacted, Schembri said the police had directed him not to comment on ongoing investigations.

However, he insisted that the police investigation was not focused on him.

When Schembri purportedly passed on the information, Fenech was already a person of interest in Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder.

An investigation into the claim was sparked after data was seized from Fenech’s phone upon his arrest in November 2019 on suspicion of complicity in the journalist’s murder.

One Labour Party source said Schembri and Piscopo fell out in 2016, after the then Transport Malta CEO had started to position himself as a potential replacement as the prime minister’s chief of staff.

Schembri spent the latter part of that year receiving treatment for a potentially life-threatening illness.

Malta Today had reported that Schembri’s treatment at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota was partly funded by Fenech.

Fenech went on to implicate Schembri in the journalist’s murder after his bid for immunity from prosecution was denied. Schembri, who is expected to testify in the public inquiry on Monday, has strongly denied any connection to the assassination.

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