The daughters of former EU Commissioner John Dalli on Monday morning appeared in court accused, along with four foreign nationals, with fraud and being the masterminds behind a Ponzi scheme which defrauded investors out of their life savings.
Louise Dalli and Claire Gauci Borda, along with Eloise Marie Corbin Klein, Charles Ray Jackson, Elizabeth Jean Jackson and Robert Mitchell McIvor are facing charges of money laundering, misappropriation of funds, fraud, making a false declaration to a public authority and the falsification and use of documents.
Ms Gauci Borda stands separately charged with breaching the Money Laundering And Financing Of Terrorism Act and with failing to carry out her professional duties as an accountant and auditor.
Sitting in the dock this morning alongside Mr Jackson and Mr McIvor, the two Dalli siblings followed proceedings as Dr Arthur Azzopardi, assisting the other four English-speaking co-accused tackled initial hurdles concerning the criminal action against his clients.
When Magistrate Aaron Bugeja, presiding over the case, observed that two of the co-accused were absent, Dr Azzopardi explained that Ms Corbin Klein and Ms Jackson have been home bound for the past two years on account of poor health.
One of the women had suffered a stroke while the other one was asthmatic and had a medical condition which affected her mobility, the court was told. For this reason, both women, who shared a common residence, had not left their home for the past two years.
In view of such circumstances, the court ordered that these two co-accused be examined by a court-appointed medico-legal expert to determine whether there existed any medical condition or other lawful impediment to them being present in court. This expert report was to be submitted before the next sitting later this month.
Dr Azzopardi further suggested that the same medical expert would determine not only whether his clients could be physically present in court but also whether they were capable of instructing their counsel. He had visited the two women at their home and had encountered serious difficulties of communication, particularly in respect of Ms Jackson, he said.
Accepting this suggestion, the court put off the case to a later date pending the drawing up of the medico-legal report.
Inspector Yvonne Farrugia prosecuted.
Lawyers Stephen Tonna Lowell and Stefano Filletti were counsel to the Dalli sisters.
Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi was counsel to the other co-accused.