A judge on Wednesday rejected a request to re-arrest a man believed to have run a $50 million racket defrauding the US Navy, after he was not remanded in custody earlier this week.
On Tuesday evening, the Office of the Attorney General filed an urgent application for the re-arrest of Frank Rafaraci, a 68-year-old Italian-American national, wanted by the US authorities.
Rafaraci is wanted by the District Court of Columbia in the US over a raft of charges including conspiracy to commit bribery, wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Times of Malta reported on Monday how he is alleged to have operated a scheme that used falsified invoices and receipts for equipment and supplies sold to the US Navy.
The man is also alleged to have paid a US government official tens of thousands of euros in cash bribes in exchange for insider information on future Navy contracts.
Sources told Times of Malta that US authorities believe the man and his known associates then laundered funds using shell companies, evading millions of dollars in US taxes.
Wednesday’s sitting was held following an urgent application filed on Tuesday by the Attorney General.
He was arraigned on Monday afternoon, hours after being arrested in Malta on Sunday evening, in a joint operation by the Maltese and US authorities.
However, despite the severity of the case, Rafaraci walked out of court after being charged under arrest.
In the application for his rearrest, the AG said that he was “perplexed by the Court’s decision to release the requested person from custody simply because the charge sheet is described under US law as being a ‘Criminal Complaint.’”
Rafaraci was “now effectively free to flee the Maltese Islands without having actually gone through an extradition hearing,” the AG said.
Presiding over Wednesday’s case Mr Justice Aaron Bugeja made a number of technical arguments about points of law, before turning down the AG's request.
Rafaraci is being represented by lawyers Giannella De Marco, Stefano Filletti, Mark Refalo and Stephen Tonna Lowell.