Witnesses tell court man charged with money laundering would cash their cheques

The witness fainted on the stand and crashed to the ground when asked where he would cash the cheques

Several witnesses have told a court that a man charged with money laundering had cashed cheques for them in a sitting notable for the reluctance of the witnesses to testify.

The compilation of evidence against Redent Zammit, 48, Marcia Zammit,46, Chantelle Zammit, 22, Andrew Zammit, 74 and Mary Rose Piscopo, 28 continued before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech this morning. The five are accused of money laundering.

One of the many witnesses to testify today, plasterer Ghazi Alewi, told the court that he and Redent would lend money to each other. On one occasion, €3500 was loaned and repaid with a €5000 cheque. Alewi said he was given all the change due and denied being charged any money for the service.

At this point, the prosecution declared the witness to be hostile, with the court warning him that he was under oath and that there were consequences for him if he did not tell the truth.

Alewi replied, saying that he would pay Redent “€10 or €20 as a thank you.” He would be paid by cheque, said the witness.

While the court was asking him where he would cash the cheque, the witness fainted on the stand and crashed to the ground, hitting his head on the floor, hard. The court suspended his testimony and ordered an ambulance to be called as court staff sat the man down and gave him water.

Another witness, Jason Mangion, recounted seeing Redent cashing several cheques at Zammit’s Qrendi home. Zammit would receive €100 to €200 every time, depending on the amount, he said. “He would deposit them in the machine. His wife would be there sometimes. His wife was scared, but she would go. His wife is Marcia Zammit,” said the man.

Another witness, Abdulhamed Checkhari, an interior decorator, told the court that he would be paid by cheque and would sometimes have friends cash them for him at the bank. He recognised Redent Zammit, who he said was a friend of a friend. Once Zammit had cashed a cheque of €1000 for him. “My friend Abdul told me to pay him €10.”

Checkhari was also declared a hostile witness after changing his version of events from that which he had given to the police. Confronted with his deposition to the police, he said he would pay Zammit €10. He said he was told to do so by a friend and not by the accsued.

Plasterer Allah Ali said he would be paid in cash for his work. “The only cheque I get is from the government. I didn’t have an ID card and because of that I gave the cheque to a Maltese man [to cash].” He did not recognise the man in the courtroom. He had met the person in question in Fgura and then went to cash the cheque at BOV he said initially, later changing his version to state that he went to the man’s house. The man went to the bank and gave him the money. This had taken place about a year and a half ago, he said. The cheque for over €100.

The prosecution also declared Ali a hostile witness and confronted him with his statement to the police. He had told the police that he had called the accused himself and had given him €5 per cheque, €10 in total.

Next up on the stand was Malcolm Balzan who reluctantly pointed out Redent Zammit to the magistrate. “I am not good in these situations. I’ve been stressing out for a week,” he said.

From the man’s testimony it emerged that Zammit had charged him around 1% as commission.

“I gave him a cheque and he gave me money,” he said. “How much was it for and how much did you get back?” asked the court. “Nearly everything, because what I gave him I gave him freely.” The court said that whether or not he was grateful had no bearing on the case. The prosecution declared Balzan a hostile witness. “Xi cucata kien jehodli,” (“He’d only charge a negligible amount”) he had told the police. “Around €1 for every €100.”

Another witness, Dwayne Caruana, told the court that Zammit had a pizza shop in Fgura. Caruana would pay for his pizza with his cheques and be handed change. The accused would not charge him for this service, Caruana claimed.

Witness Jennifer Cassar told the court that she had cashed a cheque “once or twice” with the accused and had received the full amount. Several other witnesses also said they would use Redent’s services to cash cheques. They denied being charged for the service.

Lawyer Ryan Ellul is appearing for Marcia Zammit. Lawyer Martha Mifsud is appearing for Piscopo. Lawyer Josette Sultana is representing Redent, Chantelle and Andrew Zammit.