Maksar brother claims Ryan Schembri transferred €25 million to Dubai bank account

In 2017 Maltese police were informed Schembri had flew to the UK from Dubai but did not act on it

Ryan Schembri seen in a police car being escorted to court after his arrest. He is charged with money laundering and fraud linked to the defunct More Supermarkets business he owned.
Ryan Schembri seen in a police car being escorted to court after his arrest. He is charged with money laundering and fraud linked to the defunct More Supermarkets business he owned.

Adrian ‘Tal-Maksar’ Agius had claimed in a sworn statement that Ryan Schembri had transferred €25 million to Dubai.

This came out on Wednesday in court, during the compilation of evidence against Ryan Schembri, who is facing money laundering and fraud charges. He appeared in front of Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

Francois Dalli, appearing parte civile, mentioned how Adrian Agius known as ‘tal-Maksar’ mentioned in a statement to the police that Schembri had transferred €25million to a Dubai bank account.

Adrian Agius, previously a director linked to the More Hamrun supermarket, is currently under arrest in connection with the assassinations of Daphne Caruana Galizia and Carmel Chircop.

The prosecution was led by police inspector Anthony Scerri of the Financial Crimes Investigation Department and Karl Muscat from the Attorney General’s office.

Scerri recounted how in November 2020 he was handed a file with three judicial complaints by Darren Casha, alleging that Schembri had defrauded him of millions of euro.

Schembri's escape from Malta in September 2014, took place soon after he had started procedures aimed at transferring his supermarket business to Casha, who was then under the impression that the More Supermarkets chain was in excellent financial health.

Scerri explained how in 2013 Casha stepped in as a guarantor for Adrian Zammit, who had handed over €2 million in cheques to Schembri for a meat business venture. He also acted as a guarantor for a certain Mohammed for a company called Copacabana.

After the judicial complaints were raised, police issued a blue notice against Schembri. A blue notice is issued when a person is believed to have information about a crime or a criminal suspect.

Casha had met Schembri in Libya and had agreed to team up with Mohammed and set up a meat business together. Schembri had suggested a trademark called “Sorriso”.

Casha had told the police that only the cheap products like water used to arrive in Malta but not the expensive ones. After financial difficulties were evident, Schembri had suggested that he transfer his shares in More Supermarkets to Casha.

This was done through an auditing company handpicked by Casha.

Casha had told the police that angry creditors had started showing up asking for money once Schembri fled Malta. He had realised that the company was in great debt.

Inspector Scerri told the court that whilst the international arrest warrant for Schembri was being issued, he came to know of other judicial complaints against him. A certain Steve Delia had handed around €115,000 to Schembri, but a Banif cheque he received in return of €129,000 bounced.

Other complaints from creditors of Schembri were also retrieved. Another one, Christian Delia had said he had paid more than €1 million to Schembri.

The escape route

According to Scerri, Schembri’s ex-wife said that Schembri once told her to pack her things as they were leaving the country. He had looked “frightened and confused”.

They had left Malta, along with their son, to Sicily using the ferry. They had then taken a flight to Amsterdam and eventually to Dubai. They lived for some time in Dubai, then going to Australia for a brief period and ultimately returning back to Dubai.

She had told the police that Schembri always paid in cash. Along with her son, they had decided to move to the UK, until they moved back to Malta. Schembri had decided to stay.

Inspector Scerri revealed that in 2017 the UK police had informed the Maltese police that Schembri had travelled from Dubai to UK. He said he could not understand how the local authorities never acted on this.

Magistrate Frendo Dimech was in disbelief when hearing about this and asked for all the information the police had on this incident.

According to the police, Schembri did not make use of any false documents during his time abroad.

A speeding ticket in Scotland is what ultimately landed Schembri in trouble, with an arrest warrant issued on 11 April 2022. Schembri was arrested a day later and ultimately he was extradited to Malta.

During the interrogation, Schembri had cooperated and said he always intended to pay back his creditors. He had told police that he was working on a big project, related to commodities, in order to be able to pay back his creditors.

Schembri told the police about two companies he had, one in the UK and one in the Seychelles. To date, police have no information on the Seychelles company.

Scottish police had seized two Macbook laptops belonging to Ryan Schembri, also a mobile phone and an HP computer. Schembri had refused to disclose the passwords to the devices.

Various bank accounts in the UK linked to Schembri were found but no properties under his name were traced. According to the Scottish intelligence, Schembri led a comfortable life in the UK.

The case was deferred to 20 June at 11am.

READ MORE: More supermarket debt - Schembri and ‘Maksar’ ruse to claw back millions

11:35 The case will continue on 20 June at 11am. Laura Calleja
11:34 The defence does not make a request for bail at this stage. Laura Calleja
11:33 Montalto formally requests that the visits with his client, Ryan Schembri, are held in contact and not behind a perspex. The magistrate does not find an objection. Laura Calleja
11:25 Two Macbook laptops belonging to Ryan Schembri, seized by the Scottish police, are exhibited in court. Also a mobile phone and an HP computer. Laura Calleja
11:24 Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech asks that the police gather the details of this investigation. Laura Calleja
11:23 Jose Herrera appearing parte civile for Casha, asks about a 2015 transfer of €25 million through Dubai. He asks whether an investigation was done by the police, considering that Schembri had already left the country. Laura Calleja
11:07 Dalli asks whether Schembri had any gambling or illicit habits, and Scerri says it does not appear to be the case. Laura Calleja
11:07 Scerri says that Schembri had told him that he had absconded; however, he intended to return and settle his debts. Schembri had told him that no one was helping him when he attempted to do business to settle his debts due to the media reports. Laura Calleja
11:04 Dalli questioned the products that used to arrive in Malta. Scerri repeated that they were primarily cheap products. Only a minimal amount of the expensive products ever arrived. Laura Calleja
11:02 Dalli asks Scerri whether the books were being cooked. Scerri says that according to Casha, this was the case. Laura Calleja
11:01 Scerri had asked Casha how no one had noticed that the businesses were in dire straits. Scerri had been told that a certain amount of sales were showing through the audits. Laura Calleja
10:57 Dalli asks about Schembri's apartment in Scotland. Scerri says that it was rent. Laura Calleja
10:54 The court session resumes. Lawyer Francios Dalli, parte civile for Darren Casha will now question Inspector Scerri. Laura Calleja
10:48 Inspector Scerri and Ryan Schembri have a casual chat during the break about Schembri’s formal attire and the weather. Laura Calleja
10:41 The court will now adjourn for 10 minutes to allow Inspector Scerri to rest before the case continues. Laura Calleja
10:39 Scerri says it didn't look like Schembri had not made any reports to the police, fearing for his life. Laura Calleja
10:37 Schembri confirmed to Scerri that he had abandoned the companies and left. Laura Calleja
10:36 Scerri says Schembri had initially told him that he was being robbed but ultimately said that “he had lost control” of his businesses. Laura Calleja
10:36 Schembri told Scottish police that he made €100,000. However, Scerri says that Schembri told the local authorities that he made €50,000. Laura Calleja
10:34 Scerri says that there are various bank accounts in the UK in Schembri’s name but no properties. He says that it appears through intelligence that Schembri lived a comfortable life. Laura Calleja
10:32 Scerri says that the verification of the company in the Seychelles and communication with the authorities are at an early stage. Laura Calleja
10:31 Scerri says that Schembri was the one who brought up the company in Seychelles. Montalto highlights that Schembri cooperated throughout the process. Laura Calleja
10:31 Scerri says that while Schembri currently has companies in the UK and Seychelles, he still does the same trading as before. Laura Calleja
10:29 Scerri says it’s easy to say “business went wrong,” but the actions of Schembri and the way he fled the country are highly suspicious. Laura Calleja
10:29 Montalto asks if the same repayment methods were used when the creditors were repaid, as well as when they were not. Scerri says it appears so. Laura Calleja
10:26 Montalto says that most creditors were paid by Schembri and made profits. Scerri says this was the case, but he also notes that he had complaints from those that were not paid. Laura Calleja
10:18 Scerri says that Schembri appeared to borrow money and promise profits to his creditors. He used to hand over cheques with profits in advance. Laura Calleja
10:15 Scerri says that it was only Casha who had mentioned Sorriso with him. Laura Calleja
10:14 Casha had explained that Schembri used to take them to foreign fairs of meat products to showcase the Sorriso trademark. Laura Calleja
10:12 Montalto says that Casha had handpicked the reputable auditors, and Scerri confirms this is true. Laura Calleja
10:11 Scerri says that Casha had explained that the transfer of shares of More supermarkets was a way for Schembri to repay Casha. Schembri had told police that Casha had mismanaged the business. Laura Calleja
10:09 Scerri says that no magisterial inquiries were initiated based on the complaints against Schembri. Laura Calleja
10:02 When prompted by Montalto, Scerri says that he found it puzzling that Schembri was not hiding his tracks well. He says he found it strange that Schembri was concerned for his family and then stayed abroad while his family returned to Malta. Laura Calleja
10:00 Robert Montalto asks Scerri whether Schembri made use of any false documents. Scerri says that this was not the case as far as the police are aware. Laura Calleja
10:00 The counter examination of Inspector Scerri by Schembri's defence starts. Laura Calleja
10:00 When Casha took over the company, he could not perform the same business operations since he did not own the Libyan supermarkets. Laura Calleja
09:59 Scerri explains that the Maltese supermarkets were selling to the Libyan supermarkets to inflate the profits of the Maltese business. Laura Calleja
09:59 Scerri touches back on the presentation Schembri had made to the auditors. At face value, the company looked like it was making a profit; however, it resulted that the profit was being made through a supermarket in Libya. The profit for More Supermarkets was inflated. Laura Calleja
09:52 Darren Casha had told police that no money was paid during the transfer of the shares between Schembri and him. Laura Calleja
09:51 According to Scerri, Schembri was aware of a Blue Notice that the police had on him. Scerri says that individuals should not be aware of this information. A Blue Notice is issued when a person is believed to have information about a crime or a criminal suspect. Laura Calleja
09:45 According to Scottish police, Schembri used to live in England and lived in Scotland for about a month. The property he used to live in belonged to his mother's partner. Laura Calleja
09:45 Scerri is exhibiting the electronic equipment that was seized by the Scottish police. They also seized bank cards and around £7,000. Laura Calleja
09:44 Scerri says that the local authorities were aware of Schembri’s companies in the UK and Seychelles. They, however, had no information about the one in Seychelles. Laura Calleja
09:43 Schembri told the police he realised that his business was not doing well between March and April 2014. Scerri notes that most of the cheques were issued after this period. Laura Calleja
09:42 The police asked Schembri whether his creditors were aware of his business plans. Schembri said he hadn't told them. Laura Calleja
09:42 Schembri refused to hand over the pin numbers for his devices due to the fact that he had sensitive information on his prospective business. Schembri told police that the business had to do with commodities. Laura Calleja
09:41 Scerri says that Schembri had cooperated and had explained that business had gone wrong. He told police that he always intended to pay back his creditors and said he was working on a big project to be able to pay back the creditors. Laura Calleja
09:41 He was arrested by Scottish police and appeared in court on 16 and 20 April 2022. He was then extradited to Malta. Laura Calleja
09:40 Scerri reconfirms that a speeding ticket in Scotland was what triggered the arrest warrant for Schembri. The arrest warrant was issued on 11 April 2022. Laura Calleja
09:40 The magistrate appears to be in disbelief that the local authorities never acted on this report. She asked for the documents to verify who was responsible. Laura Calleja
09:39 In 2017 UK authorities informed Maltese police that Schembri had travelled from Dubai to the UK. Laura Calleja
09:38 Scerri explains that the Maltese police were in communication with the police in the UK. Laura Calleja
09:38 Schembri remained there, but his wife and her son moved to the UK and finally returned to Malta. Laura Calleja
09:37 They lived in a hotel for some time in Dubai, and then they went to Australia. Ultimately, they returned to Dubai. She explained that Schembri always paid in cash. Laura Calleja
09:37 They left Malta in their vehicle to Pozzallo with their son. They then left the car there and took a flight to Amsterdam and then Dubai. Laura Calleja
09:36 Schembri’s wife recounted how in 2019, he told her to pack as they were leaving the island. She had said he looked frightened and confused. Laura Calleja
09:36 Scerri mentions various other querelas of creditors of Schembri, who he paid in cheques that were not redeemable. Laura Calleja
09:35 Delia had said that he had given €115,000 to Schembri, for which Schembri had given him a cheque of €129,000. The cheque was from Banif Bank; it did not clear. Laura Calleja
09:34 One of them from 2014 was Steve Delia, to whom Schembri owed money for meat products. Laura Calleja
09:33 Scerri says that whilst the warrant was issued for Schembri, he realised that inspector George Frendo had other querelas against Schembri. Laura Calleja
09:32 Casha ultimately realised that he was the sole owner of the trademark and owed millions. Laura Calleja
09:30 When Schembri absconded, creditors started showing up and asking Casha for money. Laura Calleja
09:29 They had gone to see auditors, and Schembri had convinced them of his legitimacy. The shares were then handed over to Darren Casha. Laura Calleja
09:28 Casha told Scerri that he noticed financial difficulties, with Schembri telling him that the issue could be solved through shares that Schembri had in More Supermarkets. Laura Calleja
09:26 A few products arrive in Malta, such as bottled water that cost very little. Things like coffee which cost more, never showed up. Laura Calleja
09:25 Scerri says that Casha told him that Schembri suggested they develop a trademark called Sorriso. Laura Calleja
09:24 Casha said he met Schembri in Libya, and they got into the meat business together with Mohammed. Laura Calleja
09:19 He was also acting guarantee for an individual named Mohammed for a company called Copacabana. Scerri says he spoke to Darren Casha about the money he handed over to Schembri. This was between April 2012 and February 2014. Casha said that Schembri used to hand over cheques. Laura Calleja
09:18 In November 2013, Casha acted as a guarantee for Adrian Zammit for the business of meat importation. He was given over €2 million. Laura Calleja
09:15 Scerri says that in November 2020, he was handed three querelas by Darren Casha, who alleged that he was defrauded millions by Ryan Schembri. Laura Calleja
09:11 Inspector Anthony Scerri is now taking the stand. Laura Calleja
09:10 Ryan Schembri is inside the courtroom, waiting impatiently while Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech is going through some court documents. Laura Calleja
09:07 We are waiting inside Hall 9 for proceedings to start. Laura Calleja
09:07 Good morning. Laura Calleja

READ MORE: More supermarket debt - Schembri and ‘Maksar’ ruse to claw back millions