Economic Crimes Unit chief Ian Abdilla refused to say a word when questioned by Times of Malta about a 2017 Castille meeting with Keith Schembri, who at that point was already a suspect in multiple money-laundering cases

Abdilla admitted during a public inquiry into journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s death that he was summoned to the meetings by the prime minister’s former chief of staff. 

The assistant police commissioner claims to have merely advised Schembri to consult a lawyer over leaked FIAU reports about corruption and money-laundering during these meetings. 

When these meetings took place, Schembri was already a suspect in two money-laundering cases that were meant to be investigated by Abdilla’s unit. 

The case files were opened after the unit received reports in 2016 from the FIAU detailing reasonable suspicions that Schembri was involved in criminal activities. 

These reports were later leaked amid fears that the police had declined to take any action against Schembri. 

Abdilla’s meeting with the former chief of staff would have taken place just weeks after two magisterial inquiries into Schembri were triggered by the leaks. 

Nothing else has been heard about the status of these 2017 inquiries. 

Questioned by  Times of Malta about whether he felt any responsibility for Caruana Galizia’s assassination due to his own inaction against individuals linked to her murder, Abdilla opted not to reply. 

Abdilla also admitted when questioned by lawyer Jason Azzopardi during the inquiry that he headed to Portomaso to meet murder suspect Yorgen Fenech in November 2018 for a chat about a Times of Malta and Reuters investigation that named him as the owner of 17 Black

The cheques Yorgen Fenech walked away with.The cheques Yorgen Fenech walked away with.

The meeting was cancelled by Abdilla’s superior Silvio Valletta because the 17 Black owner was “sick”, the inquiry heard on Friday. 

A month after the aborted meeting, the Economic Crimes Unit botched a request for information about 17 Black from the United Arab Emirates. 

This botched request helped Fenech walk away from his offshore holdings with €1.5 million. 

Certain evidence the police unsuccessfully sought from Dubai would be later found in Fenech’s Portomaso office after it was raided following his arrest in connection with Caruana Galizia’s murder a year later. 

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us