The prime minister's chief of staff Keith Schembri says there is no evidence he is a money-launderer but the government's own anti-money laundering agency (FIAU) appears to think otherwise.

In a statement through the Department of Information, Mr Schembri, who is in the eye of the storm following revelations in the Panama Papers, defended his reputation. He was replying to an editorial carried in The Sunday Times of Malta

People found guilty of money laundering can face an 18-year jail-term.

Times of Malta looks at some of the evidence available to fact-check Mr Schembri’s claims.

Keith Schembri's claim: "There is no such evidence of money laundering."

Fact: At least two FIAU reports found a reasonable suspicion of money laundering/criminal activity involving Mr Schembri. The FIAU suspects Mr Schembri took kickbacks on passports sales.

It also suspects Mr Schembri was involved in money-laundering activities with Allied Newspapers' former managing director Adrian Hillman.  

READ: FIAU had found 'sufficient evidence' to conclude 'reasonable suspicion of money laundering'

Extracts of a third report, which is yet to be concluded, found that Mr Schembri's Panama company along with that of Minister Konrad Mizzi's was to receive payments from two Dubai-based companies.

The FIAU found that money was passed on to one of these Dubai-based firms from the company behind the Floating Storage Unit, which provides LNG to the new power station.

Keith Schembri's claim: "Prime Minister Joseph Muscat established a magisterial inquiry to ascertain whether there was any substance to them [the claims]."

Fact: Mr Schembri is confusing the different magisterial inquiries here. Dr Muscat established a magisterial inquiry to look into claims made through Daphne Caruana Galizia's blog that his wife owns Egrant, a third secret Panama company.

The FIAU reports containing evidence of Mr Schembri's money-laundering activities was later presented to inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja by Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.

The inquiring magistrate passed this evidence on to two other magistrates, who are now conducting separate inquiries into the money laundering suspicions raised in the FIAU reports.

Keith Schembri’s claim: It is ‘utter nonsense’ that the police failed to investigate, as the independent inquiry is ‘proceeding normally.’

Fact: The FIAU handed two of the reports detailing suspicions of criminal activity by Mr Schembri to the police last year. No action was taken. 

READ: Police chief, AG knew of ‘kickbacks’

Many of Mr Schembri's complex web of offshore holdings were not known to the authorities prior to the Panama Papers leak.

The FIAU said Mr Schembri had to explain why many of the payments to Mr Hillman took place through "offshore accounts held in jurisdictions which are known for strict secrecy reports".

In another report, the FIAU questioned how funds originating from personal accountants of passport applicants ended up in Mr Schembri's personal account.

READ: Schembri, Tonna suspects in ‘proceeds of crime’ related to kickbacks from passports' sale

Once again, the police failed to investigate.

Prior to the leak of the FIAU reports, Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar had even gone on record saying there was no reasonable suspicion a crime was committed by either Mr Schembri or Dr Mizzi.

He has since refused to comment on the FIAU's findings.

 

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