Theuma expected a pass on money laundering. But the wrong inspector turned up

Middleman Melvin Theuma was told he’d get off a money laundering investigation. But when the wrong police inspector turned up, he decided to spill the beans

Middleman: Melvin Theuma
Middleman: Melvin Theuma

The middleman in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia had been tipped off of his impending arrest by an economic crimes inspector, in what was to be the prelude to an admission of his role in the murder of the journalist.

Melvin Theuma, who turned State’s evidence and will today continue to testify in the compilation of evidence against the alleged mastermind, Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech, also knew which police officer would interrogating him on a money laundering case.

Theuma was arrested in November 2019.

But when he was arrested, it turned out that a different police inspector had been assigned to the case. Realising he would not be getting released from the money laundering charges, Theuma spilled the beans on the Caruana Galizia assassination.

“Alazobbi, ma jimpurtanix minn Daphne [Caruana Galizia], l-aqwa li nehles minn dil-bicca ta’ money laundering” Melvin Theuma audio recording

According to transcripts of the audio-files he recorded of conversations with Fenech and others after the assassination, which are deposited in court, Theuma was forewarned by an unidentified person of his impending arrest on money laundering charges.

In the recording, Theuma is heard telling the person: “Alazobbi, ma jimpurtanix minn Daphne [Caruana Galizia], l-aqwa li nehles minn dil-bicca ta’ money laundering” (I don’t give a f***, I don’t care about Daphne, the important is that I get rid of this money laundering case).

The recording suggests that Theuma was forewarned about a previous investigation by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, that was followed up by the Economic Crimes Squad for investigation.

The same recording has Theuma saying “inpattihielu, inpattihielu” (I’ll make him pay for it) - possibly a reference to Yorgen Fenech, to whom Theuma acted as a general gopher for years.

The recording’s transcript also refers to a specific police inspector, identified only as “Raymond”, as the person who would arrest him; again, a possible reference to economic crimes squad police inspector Raymond Aquilina, although the last name is never mentioned.

In this conversation, Theuma is told that he need not worry because the inspector arresting him would be releasing him from the charges.

Yet when Theuma was arrested in 2019, the arrest was effected by a different police inspector. It was this pivotal moment that led to Theuma admitting his role in the Caruana Galizia assassination and presenting police with his collection of audio files of recordings he had made while speaking to people implicated in the assassination, like Fenech, but also with a host of other third parties, as well as his wife.

Theuma was since then awarded a presidential pardon on condition that he provides all information on the murder plot that took the life of Caruana Galizia.

The tapes which have not been presented or used as evidence by the prosecution also make reference to other police officers and prosecuting officers.

Yesterday the Times reported that former Maltese police commissioner, Lawrence Cutajar, has also been alleged to have tipped off Theuma of his impending arrest. A Times report said Theuma can be heard saying in the audio recording that Cutajar met his good friend Edwin Brincat ‘il-Ġojja’, and that two dates are mentioned: the 16th and 26th.

Sources who heard the recording said Theuma is heard telling a third party how he had just received word that Cutajar had met with a close associate of his. Cutajar told The Times he had no knowledge of the recordings, and added that he had not been approached about the matter by any of the authorities. Cutajar said he had given his version of events over the meetings with Brincat and denied any wrongdoing. Cutajar is expected to be called in to police headquarters in Floriana.

Il-Ġojja, a close friend of Theuma, is believed to have first convinced the murder middleman to begin recording his conversations with Fenech and other associates linked to the murder.

Cutajar said he had no knowledge of the recordings, and that he had not been approached about the matter by any of the authorities.

Cutajar had held two secret meetings with Il-Ġojja during the course of the murder investigation, apparently without the knowledge of the investigative team. Sources said that when the meeting was first uncovered, Cutajar had been approached by investigative partners and told not to do so again.