Theuma discussed pardon with Fenech’s business partner in preparation for arrest

Middleman in Caruana Galizia assassination discussed prospective presidential pardon in return for his taped conversations

Melvin Theuma knew that he would use his tapes in return for a presidential pardon to reveal all about the people implicated in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia
Melvin Theuma knew that he would use his tapes in return for a presidential pardon to reveal all about the people implicated in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia

Melvin Theuma, the middleman in the assassination of Daphne Caruana Galizia turned State’s evidence, discussed a prospective presidential pardon in return for his taped conversations, weeks before he was arrested.

In conversations heard by sources close to the police investigation, Theuma and Johann Cremona – a business partner of Yorgen Fenech, the man accused of masterminding the assassination – are heard mapping out Theuma’s game-plan in the weeks before his arrest on a money laundering charge in November 2019.

Not only, but the taped conversations also reveal knowledge of the impending arrest by the economic crimes unit.

In them, Cremona actively encourages Theuma to stay close to his tapes, in full knowledge that he would leverage the evidence in return for a presidential pardon. And Cremona also suggests that Yorgen Fenech’s arrest was also a matter of time, name-dropping Kenneth Camilleri, the Security Service detail at the Office of the Prime Minister believed to have acted as a messenger for Keith Schembri, talking about the police’s next steps. 

As reported to MaltaToday, the conversations suggest that apart from fearing a money-laundering investigation into his illicit activities that included running unlicensed lotteries and loan-sharking, Theuma realised he would be taking the fall for the assassination of Caruana Galizia.

“Take care of those recordings. Mark my words, take care of them,” Cremona – a business partner in Fenech’s gaming company – told Theuma. 

“I’m not joking,” Cremona says. “The story is at its finale. Final!”

Then Theuma tells Cremona: “The minute he mentions money laundering… I’ll get my presidential pardon on both [crimes].”

The two are referring to Theuma’s impending arrest, with Cremona now clearly knowledgeable of the stage at which police investigations in the Caruana Galizia investigation are.

In the conversation Theuma also refers to his wealth, €2 million in property, of which an unnamed accountant is tasked with handling his portfolio, ostensibly to justify his gains and investments. Theuma is believed to have run a major illegal lottery worth millions.

“He told me they’re all out for Yorgen. They have accepted the case has been fucked, so they are trying to go straight to the head of it all.”

But a highly-placed police source this week confirmed with MaltaToday that some €900,000 in cash was discovered at his home during his arrest on 14 November, but it remains unclear whether this money was picked up the police.

In an official comment from the police after asked on this claim, a spokesperson said that searches at every property belonging to Theuma were carried out with Europol personnel, and that “all relevant items that were part of the investigations, including all cash that was found, were seized and exhibited as part of the magisterial inquiry.”

In the conversation, Theuma then says his accountant was handling all his affairs. “I trust him… if they come telling me ‘this is money laundering’ I’ll take them straight to the Attorney General, I’ll call up Simon Busuttil and tell him to come along to the AG.”

Cremona namedrops both Kenneth Camilleri and an unidentified person when referring to Yorgen Fenech and  his impending arrest. “When I spoke to Kenneth on this matter, he spoke to the other guy, right? He told me the only risk is a fine, that is, no prison. It’s nothing nice, you know,” he said, referring to Theuma’s money laundering arrest. 

“He told me they’re all out for Yorgen. They have accepted the case has been fucked, so they are trying to go straight to the head of it all.”

Cremona also tells Theuma that police wanted to get hold of Yorgen Fenech’s mobile phone. “It’s all sorted, the story is what it is… one of these Thursdays, it will all be buried.”

Last week MaltaToday reported a source privy to the recordings saying that Theuma can also be heard speaking to Cremona, whose name was withheld last week by this newspaper, reassuring Theuma of Keith Schembri’s protection from the police investigation.

Theuma was under pressure from an FIAU investigation that had prodded a police investigation into money laundering.

In fact it was this pending arrest in November 2019 that led him to admit his role in the Caruana Galizia assassination.

Fearing arrest, Theuma reached out to Fenech’s associate, anxious about the investigation. “Do you know what I’m really worried about… it’s not Daphne, but the money laundering,” Theuma told Cremona.

“You have to accept reality… your problem is going to be a police raid,” Cremona replied.

Theuma however appears to be agitated and angered at Yorgen Fenech and Keith Schembri throughout the course of the conversation. “He should have told me about this!” Theuma complains, ostensibly referring to Schembri.

The Fenech associate however claims to Theuma that he was being protected. “He can’t let you go under… Yorgen is telling you lies… Keith is protecting you without telling anyone else about it. Because it benefits him…. But he really is protecting you.”

Fenech’s associate also reassures Theuma that he would not face any problems on the money laundering investigation. “Don’t forget that these guys are with you, the police and the prime minister, they’re all with you. If you get Raymond, then I don’t know who else you need,” he says, ostensibly referring to Raymond Aquilina, the economic crimes unit inspector.

Former Maltese police commissioner, Lawrence Cutajar, is now under investigation for having tipped off Theuma of his impending arrest. Theuma can be heard saying in an audio recording that Cutajar met his good friend Edgar 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 said he had given his version of events over the meetings with Brincat and denied any wrongdoing.

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.  Cutajar was approached by investigative partners and told not to do so again.