Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi under police interrogation for over 24 hours, released

Former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri was taken in for police questioning at the Financial Crime Investigation Department

Former minister Konrad Mizzi and former chief of staff Keith Schembri
Former minister Konrad Mizzi and former chief of staff Keith Schembri

The former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri has been taken in for questioning at the Financial Crime Investigation Department, after being picked up by police at his Mellieha home at around 7am on Wednesday.

Former energy minister Konrad Mizzi was also taken in for questioning, before both being released on Wednesday evening.

At around 9am on Wednesday, Keith Schembri’s lawyers, Edward Gatt and Mark Vassallo arrived at the FCID. Gatt said that the police had not yet informed them of the reason for Schembri’s arrest and that he not spoken to his client.

Lawyers Jean Paul Sammut and Carol Peralta arriving at the FCID
Lawyers Jean Paul Sammut and Carol Peralta arriving at the FCID

Briefly exiting the building, Schembri’s lawyers refused to release a comment, insisting that the interrogation was ongoing.

Asked by journalists whether the current interrogation was related to the previous case for which Schembri was arrested and later released on police bail back in September, Gatt said he could not comment.

When asked how long Schembri will be held under interrogation, Edward Gatt said that it "does not depend on us".

Keith Schembri, former chief of staff, taken in for police questioning
Lawyer Jean Paul Sammut (left), former magistrate Carol Peralta (centre) and lawyer Giannella de Marco (right)
Lawyer Jean Paul Sammut (left), former magistrate Carol Peralta (centre) and lawyer Giannella de Marco (right)

On Tuesday evening, former energy minister, now an independent MP, Konrad Mizzi was also taken in for questioning by the FCID.

Former minister Konrad Mizzi is now being legally represented by former magistrate Carol Peralta and lawyer Jean Paul Sammut. Mizzi had previously been represented by lawyer Aaron Mifsud Bonnici in magisterial inquiries into alleged wrongdoing.

Mizzi spent the night in police custody after being questioned on Tuesday over his communication with Yorgen Fenech.

The interrogation has continued into Wednesday, with Mizzi’s legal team appearing at the Financial Crime Investigation Department at around 12pm.

Peralta has faced two impeachment motions to remove him from the bench and has been linked to freemasonry. Sammut is also the legal advisor to construction magnate Charles Polidano. In 2015, Sammut was appointed as chief executive of Polidano’s Estates in Ħal-Farruġ.  

Schembri was already arrested in September in connection with an investigation into an alleged €100,000 kickback he took on passport sales from his auditor Brian Tonna. He was released without charge and remained on police bail.

The arrest comes after the Attorney General asked the court to impose a freezing order on all Schembri’s assets, including those of his immediate family and companies.

The police investigation is linked to allegations that emerged in 2017 that Schembri received €100,000 in kickbacks from Tonna over the sale of Maltese citizenship to a Russian family.

A magistrate recently concluded an investigation into the allegations and passed on the inquiry results to the Attorney General.

The magisterial inquiry kick-started in April 2017 when then Opposition leader Simon Busuttil forwarded documentation to the magistrate.

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