Unexplained income leads to money laundering charges for unemployed man and partner

An unemployed man and his hairdresser partner are charged with money laundering after police investigation yields property purchases and monthly bank deposits of €11,000

The court has granted bail to an unemployed man and his hairdresser partner who were charged with money laundering and tax evasion
The court has granted bail to an unemployed man and his hairdresser partner who were charged with money laundering and tax evasion

A Mosta couple charged with money laundering after a police investigation revealed how they were living in excess of their means are out on bail.

Driving instructor Clint Vella, who is registered as unemployed, and his hairdresser partner Sylvana Fenech, both 24, were arraigned before Magistrate Victor Axiaq this afternoon by Inspector Oriana Spiteri, on charges of money laundering and tax evasion.

Inspector Spiteri said the police had started investigating after being informed that the couple were living well in excess of their means, buying property and making large cash deposits despite their meagre employment.

Fenech worked as a hairdresser, while Vella worked as an unlicensed driving instructor. They had made bank deposits in excess of €90,000, with Fenech depositing around €11,000 every month.

Vella alone was also accused of working without informing the authorities and with acting as a driving instructor without the necessary licence.

The couple pleaded not guilty. Their lawyers, Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri and Francesca Zarb asked for bail.

When asked by the defence, the inspector confirmed that none of the money appeared to have been obtained through drug trafficking, prostitution, trafficking in weapons or any other criminal activity. No drugs were found by police during a search of their home.

The inspector explained that the arraignment was over their failure to declare their income, hence the money laundering charge.

Debono argued that they shouldn’t have been charged with money laundering but tax evasion and that similar tax evasion cases are usually resolved administratively.

The court granted the couple bail on a deposit of €2,000 and a personal guarantee of €20,000.

Inspectors Claire Borg, Keith Mallan, Danilo Francalanza prosecuted together with lawyer Andrea Zammit for the Attorney General’s office.

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