MFSA suspends Nexia BT authorisation to audit insurance business

Regulator suspends authorisation of Nexia BT to act as approved auditor for insurance intermediaries after temporary suspension by Accountancy Board.

Brian Tonna and Karl Cini
Brian Tonna and Karl Cini

The Malta Financial Services Authority has suspended the authorisation of Nexia BT to act as an approved auditor for insurance intermediaries, in view of the temporary suspension of the registration of Nexia BT by the Accountancy Board.

MFSA’s decision may be appealed before the Financial Services Tribunal within the period as prescribed by the applicable law.

Following the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry by Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras into allegations of kickbacks on the sale of Maltese citizenship between Nexia BT partner Brian Tonna and former chief of staff Keith Schembri, the Accountancy Board

appointed a disciplinary committee to adjuge charges imputed against Tonna, Karl Cini, Nexia BT, BTI Management Limited and Nexia BT Advisory Services Limited.

The board temporarily suspended the CPA Warrants and Practising Certificates in Auditing of Tonna and Cini, as well as the registration of Nexia BT, BTI Management Limited and Nexia BT Advisory Services Limited.

The financial regulator has also stopped BT International Limited and BTI Management Limited, companies owned by auditor Brian Tonna, from taking on new clients.

The MFSA halted all onboarding of clients by BT International and ordered the company to stop providing existing clients with any new or additional services.

The same order was issued to BTI Management Limited.

Both BTI and the audit firm Nexia BT had their assets frozen in an attachment order issued by the courts in relation to the kickbacks investigation, which implicated former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.

READ ALSO Keith Schembri’s asset freeze extended

The MFSA will now assess the impact that the recent developments may have on the operations of the company and its ability to satisfy on an ongoing basis the applicable requirements under the laws.

The companies have to provide a detailed report to the MFSA on the impact that these developments have on the business of BTI; and issue a notification to clients on the recent developments and their impact on their services.

The company was also directed to seek clients’ confirmation whether they wish to retain the services provided by BTI.

READ ALSO Tonna has golden passport licence suspended, Stock Exchange launches investigation

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