Banks asked no questions as millions of euro flowed between offshore and local companies, a court heard on Wednesday as proceedings kicked off against Pier-Paul Debono, 42.
The police had launched investigations on the basis of information learned from investigations into his brother, Darren Debono.
Pier-Paul Debono is pleading not guilty to charges of money laundering between 2014 and 2016 when he temporarily held the post of director in his brother’s company, World Water Fisheries Ltd.
He also denied knowingly or negligently making false declarations to auditors, destroying, altering or falsifying documents and breaching company laws.
Prosecuting Inspector James Turner testified that although receipts for payment were issued by a company called Timodia, it was discovered that one of Darren Debono’s companies was actually the recipient of those payments.
The inspector also said that there was evidence of shareholder loans between World Water Fisheries and other companies such as ADJ Trading Ltd, Andrea Martina and Oceano Blu.
While offshore funds were channelled through those companies into World Water Fisheries, no questions were asked by local banks.
The inspector said investigations also shed light upon a continuous change in directorship of the local companies in what appeared to be a move to bypass OFAC (Office of Foreign Assets Control) sanctions.
A €5 million transfer was traced from Oceano Blu to World Water Fisheries and those funds were subsequently used to purchase the former Al Mare fish restaurant at Valletta, subsequently renamed Scoglitti and nowadays Porticello.
This restaurant was formerly fronted by Florinda Sultana, Darren Debono’s step daughter, who is currently also facing separate money laundering proceedings.
After hearing the inspector’s testimony the court, presided over by magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras, declared that Debono has a case to answer. A request for a freezing order was withdrawn by the prosecution.
The case continues next month.
Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb are defence counsel.
Inspectors Joseph Xerri, James Turner and Omar Caruana are prosecuting, assisted by AG lawyers Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango and Antoine Agius Bonnici.