Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar and Attorney General Peter Grech received information nearly a year ago  that Keith Schembri ­may have received kickbacks from the sale of Maltese passports, this newspaper has learnt.

Senior officers at police HQ and the Office of the Attorney General confirmed that Mr Cutajar and Dr Grech were told in person that suspicions of money laundering existed over bank transactions.

The information included detailed documentation showing bank transfers made from Nexia BT boss Brian Tonna to Mr Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, through their private accounts at Pilatus Bank in Ta’ Xbiex.

“Former commissioner Michael Cassar and current commissioner Lawrence Cutajar were personally informed about alleged instances of money laundering involving Keith Schembri so they could investigate and eventually prosecute,” a senior police official told The Sunday Times of Malta.

“While Mr Cassar did not have the chance to carry out this job, as from the next day after receiving the information he never returned to police HQ, it is not known what Mr Cutajar did.

“What is sure is so far, no criminal charges have been filed against Mr Schembri and Mr Tonna on very high suspicions of money-laundering activities,” the official said.

Neither the Police Commissioner nor the Attorney General have commented about the suspicions of money laundering at the highest echelons of the government, made public earlier this week by Leader of the Opposition Simon Busuttil.

Dr Grech, who also chairs the anti-money-laundering Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, was asked to confirm that he had known about the claims made by Dr Busuttil for a long time and  whether, in his role as AG, he was requesting the Commissioner to act on the information.

He said: “As you are no doubt aware, the work of the FIAU and of the Office of the Attorney General is subject to strict obligations of legal and professional secrecy. No replies can therefore be given to the questions sent.”

The Police Commissioner was asked whether he had investigated the information he received nearly a year ago and to explain why no arraignments have been made on such serious claims. He acknowledged receipt of the questions but gave no answers.

Mr Schembri did not reply to questions asking him to say when he was interviewed on suspicions of money laundering.

Last Monday, Dr Busuttil revealed he had “documented evidence” showing Mr Schembri had received kickbacks from money paid by three Russians to buy a Maltese passport.

A sum of €166,831 was paid into a Pilatus account owned by a British Virgin Islands company, Willerby Trade Inc. Soon after, two transactions of €50,000 were made to Mr Schembri’s account held at the same private bank, Dr Busuttil revealed.

The fact that the Ultimate Beneficiary Owner (UBO) of Willerby was Brian Tonna, of auditing firm Nexia BT and the Prime Minister’s consultant, was only discovered by chance through the Panama Papers last year. Mr Schembri claimed the payment was related to a personal loan he had made to Mr Tonna in 2012 when he faced financial difficulties related to a separation.

Dr Busuttil has now presented all the evidence to the inquiring magistrate, who is also looking into claims that Egrant was owned by the Prime Minister’s wife and received a million-dollar payment from a daughter of the Azeri President.

Dr Busuttil has described Malta as facing an unprecedented situation where the institutions, particularly the police, have been hijacked by a corrupt OPM clique  and prevented from functioning.

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