A magistrates’ court has found there is sufficient evidence for Yorgen Fenech to be indicted over money laundering and fraud to the detriment of Glimmer Ltd, a company he partly owned.
Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech decreed there was a 'case to answer' on Tuesday morning - a day after the defence raised doubts over the prosecution's case against the businessman.
Nicholas Cachia, 46 alongside his father Joseph Cachia, 67, also implicated in the alleged “system” to launder company funds through fictitious wagers, were likewise declared to have a case to answer.
Fenech stands accused of committing acts of money laundering between April and October 2019 by converting or transferring property known to have been derived from criminal activity.
The former Tumas businessman is further accused of acting as an accomplice under money laundering laws, misappropriation and fraud to the detriment of Glimmer Ltd, which he co-owns with his uncle, Ray.
In the lengthy first sitting of the case on Monday, the court heard police testimony based on WhatsApp chats extracted from the businessman’s mobile phone, allegedly linking him and four other associates to the €45,000 fraud.
After the court repeatedly asked the prosecution to explain the evidence of the alleged underlying criminal activity behind the money-laundering charges, inspector Brian Camilleri identified it as fraud and misappropriation against Glimmer Ltd.
The magistrate also on Monday highlighted the court's concerns that Ray Fenech, who owns half of the company, was not spoken to by the police nor made any reports of fraud.
The defence also questioned the grounds for the charges, claiming there was a "frenzy to prosecute" Fenech.
In her ruling on Tuesday and citing a pronouncement by the Criminal Court in separate proceedings, Magistrate Frendo Dimech stated that at this stage, any doubt was to tip the scales in favour of the prosecution.
If the evidence put forward so far, linked the person charged to the crime scene, then at first glance, the person had a case to answer.
Burden on defence
In general, it was for the prosecution to subsequently overcome any doubt and prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
However, when the charges concerned money laundering, the criminal process was somewhat different because the burden of proof is shifted onto the accused, read the court.
After hearing the testimony of the prosecuting inspector on Monday and reference therein to the extracted mobile chats, it emerged that both Fenech as well as the Cachias had a case to answer.
The cases deserved further investigation before the court of criminal inquiry, said the magistrate, thus committing the three to trial under indictment.
Fenech and the Cachias appeared separately in court on Tuesday to hear the decree read out.
Fenech is also facing separate proceedings for allegedly conspiring to murder journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, with prosecutors seeking a life sentence.
He is also acccused in a third case of allegedly purchasing weapons from the dark web using the cryptocurrency bitcoin.
Lawyers Gianluca Caruana Curran, Charles Mercieca and Marion Camilleri assisted Fenech.Lawyers Kathleen Calleja Grima and Matthew Brincat are assisting the Cachias.
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