The Accountancy Board should convene a disciplinary committee to investigate wrongdoing by Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, PN MEP David Casa said in a letter reminding its members of their duty to protect the integrity of the accountancy profession.
The Board that falls under the Finance Ministry has the power to investigate the behaviour of accounting firms and can even withdraw operating licences and warrants of errant accountants.
“Nexia BT is Malta’s Mossack Fonseca. Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have been at the very centre of serious corruption and money laundering since 2013. They had a major role in every revelation of corruption and money laundering from the Panama Papers to the conclusions of FIAU investigations,” Casa said in a letter addressed to chairman Peter Baldacchino.
Tonna and Cini are directors of Nexia BT – the financial advisers who created offshore setups for minister Konrad Mizzi and the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri. Casa listed the reasons why the Board should act:
- Kickbacks to Keith Schembri
One FIAU investigation showed how kickbacks were transferred from Brian Tonna to Keith Schembri following the sale of passports through Malta’s citizenship-for-cash scheme.
- Tax Evasion on profits from the sale of passports
The Panama Papers leak exposed Brian Tonna as the ‘Ultimate Beneficial Owner’ of Willerby Trade Inc.
- Brian Tonna involved in kickbacks to Adrian Hillman
Another FIAU investigation showed that kickbacks were transferred from Schembri to the former managing director of Allied Newspapers Adrian Hillman under circumstances the FIAU concluded required police action.
- The Panama Papers
They created the financial instruments for Mizzi and Schembri that have been linked to corruption and money-laundering under circumstances that would make them complicit and criminally liable.
- Concealing of evidence and misleading authorities
They avoided “paper trails” and evidence of ‘backdating’ has been exposed as a result of the most recent FIAU leaked report.
- Companies and Pilatus Bank account for Shanghai Electric negotiator Cheng Chen
Nexia BT was responsible for providing Cheng Chen, the Shanghai Electric negotiator on the sale of a stake in Enemalta with Torbridge, a BVI company
- Karl Cini is Nexia BT’s MLRO
Cini is the designated Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO) for Nexia BT. He is responsible for ensuring robust processes are in place for detection of a suspicion of money laundering and the subsequent reporting of that suspicion to the FIAU.
“In the unfortunate case of Pilatus Bank we are witnessing the damage caused as a result of the dereliction of duty of the regulatory bodies that should have acted against the bank. The continued operation of Nexia BT and, in particular, the fact that Karl Cini and Brian Tonna continue to possess their warrants, despite overwhelming evidence against them, is of great concern and a threat to the integrity of the accountancy profession,” Casa said.
He called on the Accountancy Board to commence the process leading to the withdrawal of the warrants of Tonna and Cini. The Board has so far held back from taking action, saying it would wait for the outcome of the ongoing magisterial inquiry.
Casa said he was prepared to present all documents and evidence in his possession to the disciplinary committee.