Brian Tonna, Karl Cini started falsifying documents when inquiries kicked off • Bail denied

Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and their employee Katrin Bondin Carter have been denied bail as the compilation of evidence against them continued

Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna (centre) and Karl Cini (right) being transported to Court by police
Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna (centre) and Karl Cini (right) being transported to Court by police

Brian Tonna and Karl Cini had prepared backdated documents to satisfy due diligence requirements after a magisterial inquiry started probing their actions, a police inspector said in court.

Testifying in the compilation of evidence against Nexia BT partners Tonna, Cini and Manuel Castagna, and their employee, Katrin Bondin Carter, Inspector Ian Camilleri said the documents were required by Pilatus Bank.

The four accused were denied bail by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

Camilleri was testifying about the conclusions of an inquiry that probed an alleged kickback of €100,000 by Tonna to former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri. Tonna had claimed the money was repayment for a loan Schembri had given him while he passed through marital separation.

The court heard how Bondin Carter, who was a manager at Nexia BT, had prepared backdated documents with Karl Cini to be presented to Pilatus Bank. The documents did not reflect reality, the inspector testified.

In other testimony, Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb said that Bondin Carter would be sent for by the firm’s partners and told what to write and what not to write.

“When I asked her why she hadn't questioned why the letters were backdated, she said as long as she wasn't signing off on them, she had no reason to. The documents were sent to Pilatus Bank for due diligence requirements,” Xuereb told the court.

She said the documents related to Willerby Trading and things that had already happened. “They were definitely backdated, but I don't remember if there were other documents except those relating to Pilatus,” she said.

Willerby Trading was owned by Brian Tonna and was the company from which money was transferred to Keith Schembri's Pilatus Bank account.

Bondin Carter’s defence lawyer Franco Debono argued that his client did not sign any of the documents and was just fulfilling requests made by her employers.

Lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell for Tonna and Cini argued that the documents were not fake. “Brian Tonna’s and Karl Cini's document is truthful, but had been backdated,” he argued.

But Xuereb rebutted that the charge related to false documents dealt with a cheque for €84,000 to MFSP.

MFSP, later renamed Zenith, was the financial services firm that held investment accounts for Adrian Hillman, Vince Buhagiar and Keith Schembri. The owners of Zenith – Matthew Pace and Lorraine Falzon – are also facing money laundering charges.

The court also heard the police inspectors give details of various money transactions that passed through accounts attached to the various companies linked to Tonna, Cini and Castagna.

AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca Rizzo objected to bail on the grounds that investigations are ongoing, which could lead to further arraignments. She said that the prosecution feared the accused would tamper with evidence.

“Accounting firms are a gateway to our financial services sector and they are there to prevent abuse. In this case, they gave advice on how to abuse the system…  We heard the inspector testify that as soon as the magisterial inquiries began, a process of falsifying documents also began, after the alleged offences took place in order to cover their tracks,” Mercieca Rizzo said.

Defence lawyers argued that all documentary evidence had been preserved in the inquiry and their clients had not absconded in the four years the investigation was going on.

The court is now evaluating bail submissions and will decree on the matter at 4:30pm.


The four accused, who all pleaded not guilty, were charged with money laundering, along with others.

In September 2020, Tonna and Cini lost their warrants to practice as accountants after the regulatory authority initiated disciplinary proceedings against them.

The board also suspended the registration of Nexia BT, BTI Management Limited and Nexia BT Advisory Services Limited.

The court had already imposed a wide-ranging freezing order on Tonna and Cini, their companies and linked business associates.

Earlier today, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech denied bail to Keith Schembri, Malcolm Scerri and Robert Zammit, all linked to the Kasco Group. Schembri's elderly father, Alfio Schembri, was the only one granted bail.

17:07 That's it for today. Thank you for following. Kurt Sansone
17:06 The AG has until Monday to respond to the conventional reference. Kurt Sansone
17:02 The court after consulting with the lawyers, puts the case off for Tuesday at noon. Kurt Sansone
16:59 “It worries me that the AG sees a request for bail as frivolous and vexatious. I believe my arguments have some merit,” he insists. Kurt Sansone
16:58 Tonna Lowell points out that he made a conventional reference and not a constitutional one, and this does not require a suspension of proceedings. Kurt Sansone
16:58 Mercieca Rizzo says that the law sustains her argument. She says the request is frivolous and vexatious. “I remind that a constitutional reference should not be taken lightly as this suspends the proceedings,” she adds. Kurt Sansone
16:56 Tonna Lowell: “Whether or not this court should request a reference or not is one that should be decided immediately and not at the leisure of the AG.” Kurt Sansone
16:54 Tonna Lowell asks that another breach of Article 5 be brought to the attention of the constitutional court because the AG deemed fit to dictate how a constitutional reference is made, “when the law doesn't indicate that it should be made in writing”. Kurt Sansone
16:53 AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca Rizzo: “Nowhere does it emerge where these complaints are breaches of rights. We will be responding in writing by Monday.” Kurt Sansone
16:53 Tonna Lowell asks that the reference be made today: “We aren't going to sleep on this, this is a request for liberty.” Kurt Sansone
16:52 At this stage, lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell for Brian Tonna and Karl Cini stands to make submissions.

“As this is independent from the operation of the prosection and how it investigates and how it arraigns people and also because in this decree, the court entered into the merits of the charges by raising the lack of trustworthiness of the accused because of the allegation of falsification, when effectively from the evidence so far there is no falsification, I am requesting with the greatest respect that this honourable court refer this issue to the First Hall of the Civil court in its Constitutional jurisdiction over a breach of Art. 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights.”
Kurt Sansone
16:50 Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech reads out her bail decree.

On Karl Cini and Brian Tonna: She notes the allegations of forgery and says this doesn't give the peace of mind required. “There is no doubt that all the evidence in this case has not yet been collected and presented in court,” the magistrate says.
“If granted bail there is the risk that evidence could be tampered with. It is in the public interest that their arrest continues,” she says. She quotes the case Yorgen Fenech vs Malta which supports the view that continued detention is permissible and not to be taken in the abstract and has to take note of the public interest.

“It is the opinion of this court that the fears are still in place and the court denies bail to Tonna and Cini,” the ruling reads. The magistrate urges the prosecution to act expeditiously.
The court also denies bail to Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter.
Kurt Sansone
16:39 We are back inside the courtroom. Kurt Sansone
14:26 We will take a break and be back at that time. Kurt Sansone
14:25 The court will decree on bail at 4:30pm. Kurt Sansone
14:24 Tonna Lowell in closing says: “These are all people with clean criminal records.” Kurt Sansone
14:24 Lawyer Michael Sciriha for Manuel Castagna interjects. “We are now moving from the probable to the possible. I hope I am misunderstanding- there are investigations on third parties and on the strength of this they will keep my client in custody. If you look at all the UK cases on financial crime, bail is given because it is all paperwork,” says the veteran lawyer. Kurt Sansone
14:20 Mercieca Rizzo explains that there is a charge of complicity with Kasco... there is a need for further investigations. From the investigations, it emerged that there was complicity when the crimes were committed and when they were being investigated. Kurt Sansone
14:12 The defence lawyers continue with their bail submissions. Kurt Sansone
14:07 The court asks from where the risk of perverting the course of justice is supposed to arise. “Bondin carter did not tamper, did not escape when the investigations were ongoing,” points out Franco Debono. “So, she didn't tamper or pervert the course of justice in her case, but she might in the cases of others?” Kurt Sansone
13:58 Tonna Lowell goes on: “How do you continue to insist that there are ongoing investigations when you hurriedly decided to arraign, after four years of investigation? And without even letting the investigated persons have their say.” Kurt Sansone
13:54 Tonna Lowell interjects. “This is all a game,” he comments dejectedly. “Expediency is not the same as rushing things. It is very dangerous to have the AG mention the gravity of the case, delving into the merits during bail arguments. In her opinion, they are already guilty,” he says. Kurt Sansone
13:53 The court asks when the prosecution will know when it will finish. Kurt Sansone
13:53 Mercieca Rizzo says the second inquiry built on the conclusions and information gathered in the first one. The prosecution believes a risk of tampering with evidence exists since investigations are ongoing and these may lead to more arraignments. Kurt Sansone
13:51 The court asks her: “I note that whilst the first inquiry finished in September, the second one finished on 1 March and they were arraigned 19 days later. Can you explain this.” Kurt Sansone
13:46 Mercieca Rizzo: “We heard the inspector testify that as soon as the magisterial inquiries began, a process of falsifying documents also began, after the alleged offences took place in order to cover their tracks. The AG's fear is not absconding, but tampering with evidence. There could be further arraignments as the investigations are still ongoing…” Kurt Sansone
13:38 Mercieca Rizzo: “We have never mentioned civilian witnesses because they had testified in the magisterial inquiries. Our objection is about tampering with evidence. The accusations are related to very grave things. Accounting firms are a gateway to our financial services sector and they are there to prevent abuse. In this case they gave advice on how to abuse the system.” Kurt Sansone
13:36 AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca Rizzo stands up and gives her counter arguments. Kurt Sansone
13:36 The court says that it doesn't see any civilian witnesses or the prospect thereof. Kurt Sansone
13:30 The court points out that the superior courts had decided that there was no inequality of arms. Kurt Sansone
13:30 Debono: “The AG can appeal from the granting of bail, but the defendant cannot. This is inequality of arms.” Kurt Sansone
13:26 An inquiry represents all the proof, he says, so much so that if someone changes their version they are prosecuted for perjury. Kurt Sansone
13:22 He touches on the media coverage of the case. “We must differentiate between conjecture and facts. The evidence is that I have inspectors of police whose testimony bring to naught the prosecution's fears,” Debono says. Kurt Sansone
13:21 This had been confirmed by the prosecution, says the lawyer. “It is useless saying this is the hall of evidence if we ignore the evidence,” he adds. Kurt Sansone
13:18 Debono insists that his client – Katrin Bondin Carter – had cooperated with the police investigation and that there was no suspicion or fear that she would tamper with evidence. Kurt Sansone
13:15 Defence lawyer Franco Debono prepares to make his arguments. The court recapitulates what has been said for his benefit as he had to briefly leave the hall. Kurt Sansone
13:15 Sciriha insists that the cases at hand deal with paper trails, which his client cannot disturb. Kurt Sansone
13:14 Sciriha: “With respect, when I see my colleague's reply - where is the concrete evidence, the hard proof, that someone is going to tamper with evidence? It is this which the court has the duty to examine. This is the temple of the rights of the individual. Because the decision on whether or not to grant liberty to an individual is decided here.” Kurt Sansone
13:13 Defence lawyer Michael Sciriha makes the point that the legal points raised by Tonna lowell are inconfutable. Even though his client is in a completely different position, one cannot but appreciate their wisdom. He draws comparisons with the Italian courts and quotes from the Enemont case which gave rise to the mane pulite movement. Kurt Sansone
13:12 Tonna Lowell: “This language – ‘threatened’ – I am simply requesting what is my client’s right.” Kurt Sansone
13:12 Tonna Lowell says he asked for a constitutional reference to the First Hall of the Civil Court in its Constitutional jurisdiction. AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca Rizzo says that this is not the correct method to request a constitutional reference. “This should be a separate application, laying out the description of the complaint… The AG doesn't feel threatened by a constitutional reference,” Merceica Rizzo says. Kurt Sansone
13:10 Then there's the "risk of absconding". “They have been investigated for at least four years - now they're going to abscond? Where are they going to abscond to? Into the memorandum and articles of their foreign companies? The accused satisfy the requisites for bail,” Tonna Lowell argues. Kurt Sansone
13:08 “After 10 days in custody we have not heard one civilian witness,” he says. Kurt Sansone
12:54 The lawyer tears into the prosecution's arguments, saying that the fact that the names of his clients are Brian Tonna and Karl Cini does not make the charges they are facing more serious. Kurt Sansone
12:52 The defence lawyer points out that Inspector Xuereb had said that there was no danger as mentioned in the criminal code of the accused tampering with evidence. “The prosecution had vociferously objected and bail was denied. In the meantime, we have not heard a single civilian witness,” he insists. Kurt Sansone
12:50 Tonna Lowell: “When you have the AG able to conduct proceedings as it sees fit, God forbid there isn't the court to keep it in check. Today I cross-examined Inspector Xuereb. One would expect that... after a four-year investigation, they are given time to explain all the documents to the police. This didn't happen - there was a decision by this superpower that they had to be arraigned. Here we have an institution that decides on who and when to arraign and there is no check on its powers. Its powers are not scrutinised.” Kurt Sansone
12:48 The court stops him and asks the prosecution if it had other witnesses, pointing out that it had given the prosecution till 4pm to fill with testimony. There appears to have been a misunderstanding. Tonna Lowell continues his bail submissions. Kurt Sansone
12:47 Tonna Lowell says that “this superpower” allows the AG to do what it likes and ignore the timings given by the court. Kurt Sansone
12:43 Tonna Lowell: “Over the past 20 years the powers of the Attorney General have consistently increased. Last year these powers grew disproportionately. We look to foreign jurisdictions for inspiration on such issues. Nowhere does it have an omnipotent AG who can do anything. The law has created a superpower that needs a structure to control it. Today all we heard were police officers give testimony which could not be easily tampered with.” Kurt Sansone
12:38 Tonna Lowell stands up to make his arguments on bail. Kurt Sansone
12:36 An administrator is to be appointed to take stock of the situation before any payments from the companies are made. Kurt Sansone
12:35 Defence lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell revokes his request for dissolution of the companies. Kurt Sansone
12:34 The court will now be dealing with applications made by the parties. One deals with the appointment of an administrator, another the dissolution of companies and the third the payment of employees. Kurt Sansone
12:28 No more witnesses for today. The court is thrashing out dates for the next sitting. Kurt Sansone
12:28 Ciantar steps off the stand. Another police constable takes the stand - Samantha Zammit. She has a report to present to the court. The court asks her how she came to write it. Zammit replies that she was part of the task force set up to observe all transactions in Nexia and other companies. Her job particularly concerns Nexia BT Advisory Services. Her deposition is suspended so that the parties can read it. Kurt Sansone
12:26 The witness says that she did not analyse the transactions. Kurt Sansone
12:25 Her job was to pass on the information to investigators. Tonna Lowell: “So, if I tell you that many of them are internal transactions, what do you say?” Kurt Sansone
12:24 Ciantar: “No.” Kurt Sansone
12:24 Stephen Tonna Lowell asks the witness what her part in the investigation was. “Were you an analyst?” Kurt Sansone
12:23 Willerby Trade received €583,671 over a year, she says. Kurt Sansone
12:14 In one account, a number of cheques originating from companies and persons of interest were deposited. The figure of €9 million is mentioned, however it is impossible to confirm without access to the documents, she says. Kurt Sansone
12:12 One account used by notaries and lawyers featured the name of a known fraudster, she says. He had received some €7,000. Ciantar is going through each and every transaction, many of them are not of interest. Kurt Sansone
12:06 The company received money from three individuals into a BOV account, totalling over €36,000. The police officer is giving an overview of the activity relating to various accounts. Kurt Sansone
12:05 Ciantar says that BT International is a company which would receive payments from IIP applicants. Kurt Sansone
12:05 Another police constable, Ritienne Ciantar, takes the stand. She was assigned to the task force in October 2020 and tasked with investigating accounts of interest belonging to Nexia and BT international. She had been instructed to divide transactions into various categories - those between legal or natural persons, inter-account transactions, business overdraft and others. Kurt Sansone
12:02 She wants it clarified that a payment involving Keith Schembri which Cauchi had referred to was for €650, not €600,000. Cauchi confirms this. The witness steps off the stand. Kurt Sansone
11:58 Lawyer Giannella de Marco, for KBT cross-examines the witness. Kurt Sansone
11:57 AG lawyer Elaine Mercieca Rizzo asks who KBT Holdings directors and UBOs are. “Brian Tonna was originally director, administrator and shareholder. On 18 February, Beverly Tonna replaced her father as director, legal representative, administrator and shareholder,” Xuereb says. Kurt Sansone
11:55 KBT Holdings had two HSBC accounts, one of which was rarely used. One of the accounts had all income from cheques and held in excess of €83,000. Kurt Sansone
11:55 KBT outgoing funds:
Nexia BT Ltd received €36,000
In two transaction to an HSBC account held by the same company, Nexia BT received over €50,000
Beverly Tonna received €10,000 while Brian Tonna received over €21,000 in six instalments
Kurt Sansone
11:52 Other companies involved in similar large transactions included Kasco Ltd and Zenith. The witness is reeling off figures relating to payments received by the company. Kurt Sansone
11:49 In one of the companies, KBT Holdings, there were 511 transactions to a Bank of Valletta account, he says. In one of the transactions, BT International paid KBT €25,000 in a single transaction. Kurt Sansone
11:47 A new witness, PC John J. Cauchi from the FCID takes the stand and is administered the oath. He presents a copy of a report which he will be referring to during his testimony. He had been part of the task force entrusted with investigating Nexia BT. He explains that officers were assigned several companies to investigate. Kurt Sansone
11:46 Sciriha suspends his cross-examination. Kurt Sansone
11:46 She says that Castagna’s assets, include a semi-detached house, where he lives and on which he has a loan. Kurt Sansone
11:45 Xuereb confirms that Castagna worked himself up from employee to partner in the firm. Kurt Sansone
11:45 Defence lawyer Michael Sciriha, for Manuel Castagna, cross-examines the witness. Kurt Sansone
11:44 Xuereb says that Tonna and Cini were asked if they were consulted by Kasco Group of which they were the auditors. This second inquiry deals with fraud between several people, including Adrian Hillman, Vince Buhagiar and Keith Schembri, in which foreign structures were set up. Kurt Sansone
11:43 She is now asked about the second inquiry that covered allegations of bribery in the private sector involving Allied Newspapers and Kasco Group. Kurt Sansone
11:42 Xuereb: “At the time, he was not legally separated. There was also a Lombard Bank account and the money he was receiving in cash and cheques from an accountant.” Kurt Sansone
11:42 Tonna Lowell: “But was it part of the community of acquets?” Kurt Sansone
11:41 Xuereb: “He had told us that he had opened it to start saving money...” Kurt Sansone
11:41 Tonna Lowell: “Was it part of the community of acquets?” Kurt Sansone
11:40 Xuereb: “There was the SPX account...” Kurt Sansone
11:40 Tonna Lowell: “So in the middle of separation proceedings, Tonna should have taken from funds from the community of acquets?” Kurt Sansone
11:40 Tonna had told the police he would end up with nothing. Kurt Sansone
11:38 Tonna Lowell grills the witness on the separation of assets after Tonna's marital separation. “Everything which the couple had was subject to the community of acquets,” the lawyer notes.
Tonna has claimed that the €100,000 he paid Keith Schembri was the repayment of a personal loan he had received during the time when he was separating from his wife.
Kurt Sansone
11:36 Xuereb says that the loan between Keith Schembri and Brian Tonna, for €100,000 was the subject of a magisterial inquiry. The inquiring magistrate made reference to the court experts' reports on the availability of cash for Tonna. The magisterial inquiry had said that he never needed the loan, as he was in a good financial position not to. Kurt Sansone
11:34 Xuereb: “With regards to false documents we are also dealing with the cheque for €84,000 to MFSP.”
MFSP, later renamed Zenith, was the financial services firm that held investment accounts for Adrian Hillman, Vince Buhagiar and Keith Schembri. The owners of Zenith – Matthew Pace and Lorraine Falzon - are also facing money laundering charges.
Kurt Sansone
11:32 Xuereb is asked about documents that were falsified to mislead investigators. Tonna lowell asks that this means they are not actual counterfeits but intended to mislead investigators. “Brian Tonna’s and Karl Cini's document is truthful, but had been backdated,” says Tonna Lowell. Kurt Sansone
11:30 She is speaking about the IIP applications made by Russian individuals. The agent who introduced them to the scheme was based in Russia. Kurt Sansone
11:29 Xuereb: “Tonna had told us that by the end of March they had to hand back the keys. The desks were taken to a garage in Mqabba. In the notitia criminis per se there was no mention of ‘bogus loan’ or ‘kickbacks’.” Kurt Sansone
11:28 Tonna Lowell: “Am I correct in saying they informed the police that they were going through a rough patch as they had to return the San Gwann offices to the landlord. Due to the attachment order they couldn't sell off the desks and other office equipment. Right?” Kurt Sansone
11:27 Xuereb says that in March, Tonna had given copies of emails of which his lawyer had not been informed of. She says that when they were arraigned on 20 March they hadn't given an explanation with regards to several documents. Kurt Sansone
11:23 Tonna Lowell is representing Tonna and Cini. Kurt Sansone
11:23 He asks whether the inspector recalls the first questioning session, where no answers were given. “This was simply a reading of the conclusions of a report,” he says.
Tonna Lowell says he had asked for disclosure several times but this had not been given before 9 December.
“Do we agree that Brian Tonna and Karl Cini had answered all the questions put to them bar those which they had already told the inquiring magistrate?”
Kurt Sansone
11:21 Defence lawyer Stephen Tonna Lowell begins his cross-examination. Kurt Sansone
11:20 Xuereb says the documents related to Willerby Trading and things that had already happened. “They were definitely backdated, but I don't remember if there were other documents except those relating to Pilatus,” she says.
Willerby Trading was owned by Brian Tonna and was the company from which money was transferred to Keith Schembri.
Kurt Sansone
11:16 Xuereb: “She would be sent for by the partners and told what to write and what not to write. When I asked her why she hadn't questioned why the letters were backdated, she said as long as she wasn't signing off on them, she had no reason to. The documents were sent to Pilatus Bank for due diligence requirements.” Kurt Sansone
11:16 Debono asks her whether Bondin Carter had signed any documents. Xuereb says no. Kurt Sansone
11:15 Camilleri steps off the witness stand and Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb is next. Kurt Sansone
11:15 Camilleri: “She had explained that Nexia BT would pay for team building activities, and the like. There was never any suspicion of her tampering with evidence or attempting to flee the islands.” Kurt Sansone
11:14 Debono: “Am I correct in saying that there was nothing inappropriate from the transactions you referred to?” Kurt Sansone
11:12 The inspector clarifies that he investigated the money laundering aspect, not documentation checking, when asked by Debono whether the accused had signed off on anything. Kurt Sansone
11:10 Debono asks whether his client had told the police that she was just a manager following instructions from her superiors. Camilleri replies: “Yes... she had testified that she was the senior accounts manager.” Kurt Sansone
11:10 The defence lawyer says Bondin Carter would receive orders from her seniors and she would type them out. Kurt Sansone
11:09 Debono continues to hammer the point. “Am I right in saying that ‘prepared’ for you means ‘typed’?” Kurt Sansone
11:08 The inspector says this is the territory of his colleague Inspector Anne Marie Xuereb. She will be asked at a later stage. Kurt Sansone
11:07 Camilleri says that “it appears that she and Cini had prepared documentation”. Emails would be sent and she would prepare them, type them out and send to the relevant parties as instructed by Karl Cini. The court asks what he means by “prepare”. Kurt Sansone
11:06 Camilleri says she was spoken to a second time and again released on police bail. Debono reflects on a previous statement made by the inspector. “You mentioned that she prepared documents. Did this consist of just typing?” Kurt Sansone
11:04 Camilleri: “Yes, she brought them and explained the contents.” Kurt Sansone
11:03 Debono notes that Bondin Carter did not feature in the arrest warrants and the first time she was spoken to was on 26 February this year. He says the police sent her a “letter to call” and she complied, going to the Financial Crimes Investigation Department in Santa Venera. Debono refers to bank transactions mentioned by the inspector. “She brought you copies of documentation relating to this, correct?” Kurt Sansone
11:01 Defence lawyer Franco Debono cross-examines the witness. Kurt Sansone
11:01 Bondin Carter had told the police that she was not a chief financial officer or an accountant and had no warrant as an auditor and was simply a manager, obeying the instructions of those above her. She was later released on police bail. The inspector presents the court with various documents relating to Bondin Carter's statements. Kurt Sansone
10:58 The inspector says that when Bondin Carter was shown the documents, she told the police they were made on the instructions of Brian Tonna and at Cini's behest. Kurt Sansone
10:56 Camilleri says that Bondin Carter was later arrested. Her statement was taken and she said that she was a manager in the administration with Nexia BT. She has since left the position. Kurt Sansone
10:55 The inspector says that Katrin Bondin Carter's involvement in the first inquiry – related to allegations of kickbacks between Tonna and Keith Schembri over the sale of Maltese citizenship to Russian nationals – was “considerable”. She had prepared backdated documents with Karl Cini to be presented to Pilatus Bank, which the inspector says did not reflect reality. Kurt Sansone
10:53 Camilleri says that questioning sessions were repeated several times. In March 2021, Cini was questioned in the presence of his lawyers and chose to answer. Similarly, Tonna did the same on the same day. From the inquiry, it emerged that there were monies being paid as backhanders to several people, including Adrian Hilman, the former managing director at Allied Newspapers. Kurt Sansone
10:49 Neither did Cini and Tonna, answer any questions, the inspector tells the court. Kurt Sansone
10:48 Castagna was interrogated but did not answer any questions. Kurt Sansone
10:48 He is describing the police searches at Nexia's San Gwann offices, in which laptops and other electronic devices were seized. The search was carried out at 1am and finished almost an hour later at 1:50am. Kurt Sansone
10:47 On 21 September, Camilleri had asked duty magistrate Josette Demicoli to issue an arrest warrant against Manuel Castagna, Brian Tonna, Keith Schembri and Karl Cini. The arrest of Brian Tonna took place at his home in Marsaskala. Kurt Sansone
10:45 Camilleri, together with his colleagues had been ordered to evaluate the findings of the magisterial inquiry conducted by Natasha Galea Sciberras. A task force was set up. The witness recognises the accused in the dock. Kurt Sansone
10:44 Inspector Ian Camilleri from the Anti-Money Laundering squad takes the stand. Kurt Sansone
10:43 The magistrate orders that the sitting continue, despite the fact that the accused have not yet arrived. Just in time, at 10:43am, the other accused are brought in. The escorting guards receive a reprimand from the magistrate. Kurt Sansone
10:42 Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech enters the hall. She notes that at 10:41am the accused have still not been brought into the courtroom. It is not acceptable that the court has to wait when the time had long been fixed since Thursday. She asks the director of Corradino Correctional Facility to ensure that the court's orders are respected by his subalterns. So far, only Katrin Bondin Carter is in the courtroom. Her lawyers are Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia. Kurt Sansone
10:40 Our senior court reporter Matthew Agius is in Hall 22, waiting for the accused to be led in. Lawyers Matthew Xuereb, Stephen Tonna Lowell, Giannella de Marco and Amadeus Cachia are chatting with the prosecution lawyers. Lawyer Franco Debono also walks in. Kurt Sansone
10:12 Earlier this morning, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech denied bail to Keith Schembri and his Kasco Group associates Malcolm Scerri and Robert Zammit. Schembri's father, Alfio, was granted bail. Kurt Sansone
10:10 Proceedings against Brian Tonna, Karl Cini, Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter are expected to start at 10:30am. Kurt Sansone
10:09 Good morning. Kurt Sansone