Why Robert Abela should accept Bernard Grech’s offer for a National Task Force (2)

In my last article I gave some reasons why Bernard Grech should be able to make a valid contribution towards resolving some of the issues resulting in Malta’s grey listing by the FATF.

Today I will ask Grech to shed some light on a number of other issues in which his PN colleagues have been involved over the years.

We all know the ruckus that the Nationalist MEPs created over the Citizenship by Investment Scheme. David Casa and Roberta Metsola did their very best to derail the scheme. According to his own standards, Casa would have resigned long ago over his very close relationship with Darren Debono and Jeffrey Chetcuti. The two gentlemen are presently on bail, accused of very serious crimes, including money laundering charges.

Debono appears to be an intimate friend of Casa, with whom he shared an office, and to whom he was directly answerable, when he was employed as a ‘person of trust’ (at that time these positions were not objectionable to Manuel Delia and his colleagues) at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Jeffrey Chetcuti is shown on a YouTube video endorsing David Casa for the 2019 MEP elections.

In August 2018, MaltaToday reported how the PN MEP employed his uncle and brother-in-law as parliamentary assistants, in breach of EU regulations. Casa, who some weeks before had vigorously defended the work of journalists in the European Parliament and slammed SLAPP lawsuits, threatened MaltaToday with legal action. His defence of investigative journalism does not seem to apply to stories specifically concerning him.

Incidentally, have you heard Casa condemning the brutal assassination of Dutch investigative reporter Peter R. de Vries or requesting the European Parliament to name some hall after him? Perhaps, for Casa, some animals are more equal than others.

In March 2016, the PN launched the Cedoli scheme, whereby supporters were encouraged to ‘lend’ € 10K to the party to relieve its massive financial difficulties, with debts exceeding €30 million and rising.

Just three months before, government had passed legislation aimed at introducing accountability and transparency on the operations of local political parties, which GRECO described as a breakthrough. One of the proposals was that anyone donating more than €7K could not remain anonymous.

The cedoli scheme disregarded the basic best practice that any loan of a duration of more than 5 years should be made through a registered public contract. The PN did not say how it would be carrying out due diligence on the donors. How’s that for fake due diligence, Dr Karol Aquilina?

In one single blow, the scheme unravelled all the work that had been done as the PN threw out of the window all talk of transparency and honesty.

The PN could also shed some light on the €250K loan from Zaren Vassallo, recipient of some largesse including the famous ex Lowenbrau land, valued at €8M and for which he paid a pittance of €706K.

Incidentally, talking about the PN’s financial difficulties, Grech might illuminate us how the party’s headquarters are still provided with water and electricity services when his party allegedly owes €3M in overdue bills. I know of a case where ARMS disconnected the service of a person who owed far less and who was charged €700 reconnection fee. Talking about animals being equal.

MaltaToday had reported that, in 2012, the police did not hand over information to Dutch investigators about alleged money laundering by Capital One. At the time Beppe Fenech Adami was a director of Baltimore Fiduciary, which owned CapitalOne.

A board of inquiry, led by three retired judges, tasked with investigating the way Maltese police handled the CapitalOne money laundering case declared that it could not exclude the possibility that the criminal investigation failed to gather steam when the name of Fenech Adami cropped up in January 2013.

After analysing the €5.3 million transactions that passed through CapitalOne’s bank accounts, the board concluded that there was a “serious shortcoming” by the police not to persist in the investigation.

“In the board’s opinion, this investigation did not continue because there was a lack of strong and necessary will on the part of the police to allow the investigation to take its normal course…”

At the time, the people behind Repubblika, Occupy Justice and Dr Karol Aquilina did not deem that this lack of will by the police to investigate when their friend’s name cropped up merited any protests.

Baltimore was already under the scrutiny of the MFSA in March 2013. In 2018, the FIAU reprimanded Baltimore Fiduciary Services and imposed a €30,000 fine over failures to implement proper due diligence and anti-money laundering setup.

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