Four men have been charged with money laundering after allegedly placing a total of €21,000 in bets that did not tally with their declared income. 

Brothers Charlston and Redent Cassar, 29 and 26, Jerome Azzopardi, 24 from Cospicua and with Josef Majri, 24 from Tarxien, appeared on court on Tuesday following months of police investigations sparked by a confidential tip off.

Two of the men lived off social benefits but were able to gamble thousands of euro at four betting shops in the south during June 2020, the court heard.

When questioned about the source of those funds, three of the suspects refused to explain.

One told police that he had placed a bet on behalf of a third party who had handed over the money. 

Further investigations indicated that the sums gambled did not appear to tally with the financial status and declared income of the men. 

All four were jointly charged with money laundering.

The Cassar brothers were separately charged with making a false declaration and making fraudulent gains to the detriment of the social security department, whilst under asuspended sentence. 

The brothers were also charged with breaching previous bail conditions. 

Azzopardi was charged with breaching bail conditions as well as a freezing order imposed by a Magistrates’ Court. 

Majri was also charged with breaching bail and with simple possession of cannabis.

Like the Cassars, Majri was charged with relapsing. 

During lengthy submissions on bail, three defence lawyers argued that there were no civilian witnesses, all evidence such as footage from the gaming parlours was preserved. 

They insisted there was no cause to doubt the men’s trustworthiness and one of the accused had even been authorised to travel to Turkey for stomach reduction surgery several months ago. 

The court, presided over by magistrate Lara Lanfranco, denied bail on account of the gravity of the charges and also upheld the prosecution’s request for a freezing order upon all assets of the accused. 

AG lawyers Karl Muscat and Andrea Zammit prosecuted, assisted by inspectors  Robert Azzopardi and Tomjoe Farrugia. Lawyer Roberto Montalto assisted Azzopardi, lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb assisted Majri and lawyer Arthur Azzopardi assisted the Cassar brothers. 

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