Man denies misappropriating, laundering €110,000 in charitable funds

Man accused of misappropriating over €110,000 from a charitable foundation denies charges

File photo
File photo

A man from Madliena has denied charges of misappropriating over €110,000 from a charitable foundation and money laundering.

Anthony Grech, 49, was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Leonard Caruana on Monday, accused of misappropriating the funds to the detriment of the Wens Foundation, as well as stealing a jigger from the Foundation, forging invoices, and recidivism. He was also accused of laundering the funds allegedly misappropriated.

Asked what he did for a living, Grech told the court that he was going to start working with a Russian investment company which also employed his wife, today.

Senior Inspector Hubert Cini, prosecuting together with lawyers Marthese Ellul Grech and Ramon Bonett Sladden from the Office of the Attorney General, told the court that the defendant had laundered the proceeds of misappropriation between March and November 2018.

He denied the charges, a not guilty plea being entered by defence lawyer Martin Fenech, who also requested bail, telling the court that Grech lived in Malta, worked and owned a business here.

The prosecution did not object to the bail request, but insisted on strict conditions being imposed. Prosecutors expressed a fear that Grech could abscond from the islands by sea, as his offices were at Portomaso, while also informing the court that he had always kept his appointments with the police so far.

Asked where he would reside if granted bail, the defendant told the court that he lived in a rented villa in Madliena.

He was released from arrest, ordered not to leave Malta, or approach any witnesses. He was required to a sign bail book three times a week and observe a curfew. Bail was secured by an €8,000 deposit and a €30,000 personal guarantee.

In view of the money laundering charges, the court also imposed a freezing order over all of Grech’s assets. His lawyer asked that the defendant be allowed to withdraw his bail deposit from the frozen accounts.

“Most of my accounts are abroad” chimed in the accused, unhelpfully.

Prosecutor Marthese Ellul Grech pointed out that the source of the funds used for the €8,000 deposit would have to be investigated and that the deposit would normally be withdrawn from his bank accounts after the freezing order is issued. There were other means for this to be done, she added.

The magistrate, observing that should the defendant wish to withdraw money from his accounts, he must follow the established procedure, reserved the right to decree on this matter at a later stage, and upheld the request for a freezing order.

“So, I’m going to prison now?” asked the defendant, before asking how he would be able to withdraw his bail deposit from jail.

The court also ordered the Director of the Asset Recovery Board to investigate and list the defendant’s assets.