Defense attorney pleaded guilty on Monday after a court heard two former directors of Zenith Finance, who have been facing money laundering proceedings since being brought in in March last year, were charged in their personal capacity. even though the prosecution knew “from day one” that they had not made any personal illicit gains.
The information was provided by an inspector from the Anti-Money Laundering Squad when the case against Matthew Pace and Lorraine Falzon resumed.
Facing questions from defense attorney Edward Gatt, the officer testified that the investigations revealed that no personal gain from any underlying criminal activity had been obtained by either of the two co-accused.
“It simply came to our notice then. Were there no illicit gains or profits in their personal capacity? ” asked Magistrate President Donatella Frendo Dimech.
“None,” said Inspector Ian Camilleri. “There were no funds accumulated to them in their personal capacity.”
This answer led to a series of questions from the defense.
“Did you know about this from day one?” asked Gatt.
“Yes,” replied the inspector.
“So why did I insist on a freezing order against the two defendants in their personal capacity?” he continued while acknowledging the fact that charges would have been drafted following a collaboration between the AG Office and the police.
“I tracked the money movements,” the inspector said, explaining that he had not personally dealt with the issue of the freezing order “as such.”
“So that decision was made by someone else?” pressed on Gatt.
“Yes,” confirmed Inspector Camilleri.
When asked to mention the person who made that decision, the witness said that at that time a “core of people” was involved in the investigation and consequent accusations, some of which were no longer working in the AG Office.
“It simply came to our notice then. Someone may want to take personal responsibility. My clients have gone bankrupt, ”Gatt said, asking why the accused had been charged with personal injury if it had been known from the outset that they had not made any illegal personal gain.
“It simply came to our notice then. To charge them personally. ”
“Thank you for that answer and for your honesty. Now whoever made that decision will bear the consequences, “Gatt continued, as the two accused began to cry.
As Pace shed tears with her hands and Falzon fished in her bag for tissue, their lawyer sent out the last warning.
“I have always said from the court stage that in these cases the courts are not instruments of fear but rather the life jackets and the safety valve of these people,” he said. Gatt.
“Today we know that these people have been charged with ‘direction’. I will make sure to look for who gave that direction. I want to bring it to light and make it pay off, ”said Gatt.
“This direction seems to have been very strong,” he added, adding that the AG appeared to be ready to ‘break’ people simply because they were ‘friends of Keith Schembri, Robert or Alfio’.
The criminal action and the freezing order, which turned out to have an impact on all the assets of the accused, had effectively destroyed “their business, their families and their lives,” he added.
The inspector’s testimony was requested in the light of separate applications submitted by the two accused to obtain a variation of the freezing orders.
As soon as the hearing was over, the court informed the parties that a decision would be given without delay.
Magistrate Frendo Dimech also thanked the inspector for his “honesty and honesty.”
The case continues in March.
AG lawyers Antoine Agius Bonnici and Sean Scerri de Caro assisted in the prosecution.
Attorneys Edward Gatt and Vassallo were defense attorneys.
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