Updated 2pm -Police issue denial
The police failed to follow procedure and register reports about suspicions of money laundering involving Keith Schembri, claims a former chief investigator from the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, which drew up the reports.
“If the files are not registered, it is like they do not exist,” said Jonathan Ferris, who worked as a police economic crimes inspector before being employed by the FIAU. Mr Ferris and the unit's head of compliance, Charles Cronin, were sacked without warning last month.
In a brief statement, police denied Mr Ferris' claim. "Files were registered and processed as in similar cases," the police said, adding that it was "shameful" that seeds of doubt about the corps' integrity were being sown.
The FIAU sends reports to the police for action – mandatory under the law – if it concludes there is enough evidence that crimes may have taken place. Two such reports finding “reasonable suspicion” that Mr Schembri was involved in money laundering or proceeds of crime were received by the police last year.
They have since been leaked but became the subject of magisterial inquiries only on the initiative of Opposition leader Simon Busuttil.
Mr Schembri has denied the allegations.
In an interview, Mr Ferris told The Sunday Times of Malta that FIAU reports were usually picked up from the offices of the anti-money-laundering agency by the police.
They then go to the police registry to be given a CID number. The reports then normally go to a superintendent, who assigns them to an inspector for investigation.
Asked if it could be taken as a formality that all FIAU reports were investigated, Mr Ferris replied: “It is not a formality. It is the law”.
Questions to the police about the matter remained unanswered at the time of writing.
Police Commissioner Laurence Cutajar has said there was no reasonable suspicion on which to investigate Mr Schembri.
Mr Ferris sees things differently.
“To reach the conclusion that there is no case to prosecute, you first have to investigate,” said the former police officer, who has led numerous high-profile prosecutions over the years, including against his own cousin.
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