Employees of companies owned by former chief of staff  Keith Schembri have finally been paid after Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg retracted a section of the freezing order that stopped wages being issued.

Seventy-eight people employed by several companies in which Schembri has a business interest last month filed an urgent application in court asking for their wages to be exempted from a freezing order.

But before the court could decide on the matter, Buttigieg retracted the section that also affected wages.

All other parts of the freezing order remain in force.

Lawyers argue the employees had nothing to do with the case in hand

The employees’ request had come just 24 hours after a similar application filed by six companies owned by Schembri asking for permission to temporarily have access to their assets, saying they must pay salaries to their employees.

Firms belonging to Schembri had their assets frozen in September after a court issued an attachment order to that effect.

The order listed 91 people and companies, including Schembri and his accountants at Nexia BT, Brian Tonna, Karl Cini and Manuel Castagna, and ordered the freeze on suspicion of money-laundering offences.

Schembri, Tonna, Cini and Castagna were all arrested following the conclusion of an inquiry into alleged financial crimes. They were released on police bail after interrogation.

The 78 employees had told the court that their wage was their only livelihood and they needed the money to feed their families and cover bank loans.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo argued in court that none of the 78 people feature on the investigation order and the freezing of their salary was disproportionate. They noted that their clients were mere employees and had nothing to do with the case in hand.

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