Florinda Sultana and former banker placed under bill of indictment

The court has fond sufficient grounds for the indictment of ex-footballer Darren Debono's step-daughter 


A court has found sufficient grounds for the indictment of ex-footballer Darren Debono’s step-daughter on money laundering charges.

The decree, known as prima facie, was handed down in the case against Florinda Sultana and Albert Buttigieg in criminal proceedings filed over their involvement in a number of companies operating the Porticello - former Scoglitti- restaurant at Valletta and Capo Mulini at Marsaxlokk. Both restaurants are alleged to be involved in laundering money linked to oil smuggling.

The pair had been the subjects of search warrants and were arrested last year during a large scale police anti smuggling operation which led to the arraignments of ex-footballers Darren Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti, together with auditor Chris Baldacchino and fuel trader Gordon Debono.

All accused are denying the charges.

Several witnesses also testified in Monday’s sitting. 

Architect Daniel Micallef, director of XYZ Ltd’s architecture and design branch told the court that he had communicated with Debono or Sultana on various planning applications on behalf of the restaurant for the past 8 years.

A Planning Authority representative presented a number of documents relative to the two restaurants, including an application in 2020 by Buttigieg, on behalf of Luzzu Catering Ltd in relation to Capo Mulini, which had been suspended.

Sultana’s cousin, Melania Brincat, who was employed by World Water Fisheries Ltd till 2017, confirmed that the company was run by Darren Debono and explained that her job was to handle fish deliveries to hotels, shops and others catering establishments. She said that her husband, Jermain Brincat, worked part-time at Capo Mulini. That enterprise was owned by Buttigieg, whom she also saw occasionally at her San Gwann office whenever he stopped over to help with bank-related matters.

The witness said she didn’t know anything about Wave Catering Ltd. “I think they took over Scoglitti,” she added.

Asked about a particular Marsaxlokk address, Brincat said that it was the address of a flat which she had personally viewed on behalf of Buttigieg who requested her help to check if the place “was ok.”

He wanted to rent the flat for employees at his restaurant and Darren Debono had contacted an estate agency to lend a hand.

Her husband, Jermain, who used to work at the Marsaxlokk restaurant on part-time basis, also testified explaining that he used to handle marketing, bookings and seating, alongside his brother who was employed as chef. She testified about a property in Marsaxlokk that Buttigieg had wanted to rent for his employees.

In his testimony, Jermain Brincat spoke about his work at the restaurant, together with his brother who was employed there as a chef. He would help out at Scoglitti sometimes he said, “as a favour.”

At the end of the working day, their takings would be placed in an envelope and handed to Buttigieg, he said.

At the end of the sitting, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech declared that there was sufficient prima facie evidence to place the accused under a bill of indictment. 

Inspectors Joseph Xerri, James Turner and Omar Caruana are prosecuting, assisted by lawyers Antoine Agius Bonnici and Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango from the Office of the Attorney General.

Lawyers Stefano Filletti and Martina Cuschieri are defence counsel.

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