The police had planned to take “further action” after “analysing” reports by the anti-money-laundering agency before they were leaked, a senior officer has said.
Assistant Police Commissioner Ian Abdilla, head of the economic crimes unit, said the reports by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit in relation to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, were analysed and “further action” was planned, but then the leaks occurred.
Mr Abdilla said that FIAU reports served as intelligence and the police would still have to conduct their own investigations to compile evidence leading to a prosecution.
When it was pointed out that Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar had gone on the record saying there was no reasonable suspicion to investigate Mr Schembri, Mr Abdilla insisted the police had never said they were not investigating the case.
“We never said we were not investigating. We always said that we were analysing the documents so we could do what was required.
“We were compiling the information so we could continue with the next steps that had to be taken”, Mr Abdilla said.
Inquiries into leaked FIAU reports were costing a lot of money
Mr Abdilla, who was replying to questions on the fringes of an anti-money-laundering conference, said it did not make sense to investigate FIAU reports when magistrates were doing the same. He noted the magisterial inquiries into the leaked FIAU reports were costing a lot of money because of the expertise engaged.
Mr Schembri is the subject of two separate inquiries after the leaked FIAU reports raised suspicion that he could have been involved in money-laundering activities. It was former Opposition leader Simon Busuttil who formally asked the court to look into the allegations.
Acknowledging that the police could carry out their own investigations in parallel with the magisterial inquiries, Mr Abdilla felt, however, that such a duplication of work would make no sense.
Asked whether the conclusions of any investigative work done by the police before the FIAU reports had been leaked were handed over to the inquiring magistrates, Mr Abdilla said the police were collaborating and their work on the reports had been “replicated” by the magistrates.
He acknowledged that another FIAU report calling for criminal investigations into activities by Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi had not been given to the police.
Mr Abdilla, who is also the police force’s liaison officer within the FIAU, said the anti-money-laundering agency had to explain why the report had not been dispatched to the police, adding he believed the report had not been finalised.
Nationalist MEP David Casa this week presented the report to Magistrate Aaron Bugeja. Mr Casa has said that the 128-page report contains damning evidence against Dr Mizzi.
Leaked extracts from the report indicate that the FIAU traced a payment to a company, 17 Black, from a firm linked to the LNG tanker providing gas to the new power station. According to the leaked extracts, 17 Black was listed as one of the target clients for Dr Mizzi and Mr Schembri’s Panama companies.
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