Former police chief Michael Cassar walked away from his role a day after the government’s anti-money laundering agency (FIAU) recommended further investigations into the Prime Minister’s top aide Keith Schembri.

The report was handed over to the police shortly before the April 2016 Cabinet reshuffle when Konrad Mizzi lost his health and energy portfolios but remained in Cabinet. This happened in the wake of the Panama Papers leak, which revealed that Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri, the Prime Minister’s closest aide, had secret companies in Panama.

The FIAU can carry out its own investigations, but it then relies on the police to take the investigations further and institute criminal proceedings if it is deemed necessary.

Contacted yesterday, Mr Cassar said that the day after the FIAU report was received, he no longer formed part of the police force.

“I spent a week away, then I was on sick leave, and later, I was no longer part of the police force,” Mr Cassar said. He was succeeded by Laurence Cutajar.

Attempts to contact Mr Cutajar yesterday proved futile.

The police have since declared there was no reasonable suspicion for them to investigate either Mr Schembri or Dr Mizzi.

According to the Panama Papers, in 2014, Mr Schembri had assets which amounted to $725,000, held through a company in the British Virgin Islands which was set up by his auditor and financial consultant, Brian Tonna.

Mr Schembri has insisted that the company in question, as well as its assets, preceded his entry into politics.

He is also one of a number of politically exposed persons with accounts at Pilatus Bank.

Mr Tonna also has an account at the Ta’ Xbiex-based Pilatus.

The Panama Papers show that Mr Tonna is the beneficial owner of two companies in the BVI, which in 2014, had collective holdings of over €520,000.

Opposition leader Simon Busuttil on Monday accused Mr Schembri of receiving kickbacks from Mr Tonna on the sale of passports. Dr Busuttil also alleged that the funds originated from one of the BVI companies, Willerby Inc.

He also said that Mr Tonna had made two payments of €50,000 each that were disguised as loan payments.

Mr Schembri said he had made a loan to Mr Tonna in 2012, before the government controversial passport scheme existed.

Dr Mizzi appeared before the European Parliament’s Pana committee when it visited Malta in February, but Mr Schembri refused to appear.

Committee chairman Werner Langen wrote to the Prime Minister earlier this month, asking him to use his authority to force Mr Schembri to face the committee.

jacob.borg@timesofmalta.com

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