Auditor Chris Baldacchino, currently facing money laundering charges, was granted bail days after being remanded in custody upon his arraignment.
Baldacchino is pleading not guilty to his involvement in the laundering of large amounts of money from alleged criminal activity by filtering them into the country’s commercial system through irregular means.
Last year, Chris Baldacchino and Associates was fined some €58,000 by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit for lax anti-money laundering controls that could have “possibly led the firm to be used and abused by money launderers to bypass checks that would otherwise have been carried out.”
During Baldacchino’s arraignment, Inspector Omar Caruana told the court that the auditor was first arrested in November and had been interrogated a number of times pending police investigations which had started in April 2020.
He was denied bail upon his arraignment on March 22, in view of the serious nature of the charges and the fact that a number of civilian witnesses were still to testify.
When the compilation of evidence kicked off last week, the prosecution summoned a long list of witnesses, including all civilians save one, who could not attend the hearing on account of health reasons.
Baldacchino’s lawyers put forward a fresh request for bail, pointing out that the accused had cooperated with investigators and that all but one of the civilian witnesses had testified, thus reducing the risk of tampering with evidence.
The prosecution confirmed that investigations had been concluded.
In light of such considerations the court, presided over by magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, upheld the request against a deposit of €35,000, a personal guarantee of €65,000 and signing of the bail book three times weekly.
The case continues in May.
Lawyers Antoine Naudi and Stephen Tonna Lowell were defence counsel.
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