Keith Schembri’s police file in 2016 was called Operation Green

Former police commissioner Michael Cassar tells Caruana Galizia inquiry Operation Green was the name of an investigation into former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Nexia BT's Brian Tonna initiated in April of three years ago

Former chief of staff Keith Schembri
Former chief of staff Keith Schembri

Operation Green was the title of a police investigation into former chief of staff Keith Schembri and Nexia BT's managing partner, Brian Tonna.

This was revealed in former police commissioner Michael Cassar's testimony during the last sitting of the Daphne Caruana Galizia public inquiry. Cassar said that a police file was opened on Schembri and Tonna on 8 April 2016.

The case file number is CID/0442/E/16 and the operation was started, according to Cassar, when allegations related to the Panama Papers implicating both Schembri and Tonna were pouring in.

"As soon as the allegations started coming in, I asked if the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit was working on it and I was told that they were. When that happens, we wait for them," Cassar told the board, adding that police didn't want a double file on the same persons, one opened by them and the other by the FIAU. This is why he had introduced a single-file system, he argued.

Cassar mentioned how one of the cases in the file on Schembri made reference to a €100,000 loan Schembri had granted to Tonna.

The single file was titled Operation Green and according to Cassar's testimony, the file mentioned several politically exposed persons but that nobody from the Office of the Prime Minister or any ministry had contacted him about it. 

Former police commissioner Michael Cassar resigned in April 2016, citing health reasons
Former police commissioner Michael Cassar resigned in April 2016, citing health reasons

Cassar was questioned by lawyer Therese Commodini Cachia, appearing for the Caruana Galizia family, and asked him why he decided to leave the police force, whether there was any pressure or interference.

"Not with respect to the investigations, no," he said. "Administratively, it was a slightly different story." Cassar didn't specify how there was administrative interference but the press was asked to leave the courtroom so that Cassar could continue his testimony behind closed doors. 

Cassar said that he was more comfortable doing this. Only the Caruana Galizia family was allowed to remain. 

Cassar told the inquiry that he had already decided to leave the force by the time Operation Green was launched and that he had made the decision to resign in the previous December. He resigned three weeks after he received the reports on Schembri on 27 April 2016.

He was succeeded by current Police Commissioner Lawrence Cutajar.

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