PA, Wasteserv fail to explain appointment of blacklisted company’s sales director to their boards

More than a week after questions were sent regarding the multiple government board directorship posts awarded to a Labour-affiliated individual in a blacklisted company, government authorities remain silent.

On 2 March, The Shift sent questions to the Planning Authority (PA) and Wasteserv about the appointment of Kerstin Ancilleri, sales director and citizenship-by-investment programme coordinator for Exante, to separate directorship roles on the boards of both entities.

As previously reported, one company in the network of companies making up the Exante brand was blacklisted by Russia’s Central Bank over “signs of illegal professional participation in the securities market” last year and is no longer authorised to operate in Russia.

In a separate case in the US in 2015, Exante was linked to $100 million in profits allegedly derived from an international hacking ring that lifted data illegally from news wires to trade ahead of the market.

A screenshot of the notice from the website of Russia’s Central Bank detailing Ext Ltd’s blacklisting.

In spite of the nature of the accusations and sanctions levelled at Exante and the fact that Ancilleri does not seem to have any directly relevant experience when it comes to planning decisions or waste management, she was appointed to Wasteserv’s board of directors in February 2020 and made a member of the PA’s planning board in October 2021.

The PA and Wasteserv did not answer questions which sought to determine why Ancilleri was appointed to these boards. The same authorities also did not answer questions about whether either authority expressed any reservations over the appointment of an individual who also works for a company with a dubious track record.

On 3 March, The Shift outlined Ancilleri’s ties to the Labour Party, including how she had referred to Malta Enterprise CEO and the former head of communications for disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, Kurt Farrugia, as her “mentor”.

Ancilleri is not the only figure from Exante to have direct links with the government – former compliance officer for Exante, Kristina Arbociute, had also moved to the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) merely a month after leaving the company.

A map of Exante’s local network of companies (marked in black), along with specific colours for completely offshore shareholding companies (orange) and local companies with offshore shareholders (green).

Exante’s ties with high-ranking figures in local government has been in full view since at least 2015, with company executives boasting of meetings with Muscat, former president Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, and then-parliamentary secretary for the digital economy, Silvio Schembri. Alexey Kirienko is among the names published in a list of over 2,000 people who became Maltese citizens in 2016,

The company’s troubles with at least two major authorities, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Russia’s central bank, come into even sharper focus in the context of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine and the sweeping sanctions against Russia.

Given Exante’s largely Russian client base, concerns have been raised over how the Exante network’s structure means its non-EU clients can use its trading platform and its citizenship by investment programme to directly access local and EU markets.

Exante markets itself as a one-stop shop for traders, and for customers of Malta’s cash-for-passports programme. The company is listed on the Malta Stock Exchange. As a licensed operator, it can also trade government bonds, one of the requirements for citizenship by investment.

                           
                               
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Frank
Frank
2 months ago

So the head of FIAU Kenneth Farrugia, and his deputy Alfred Zammit are happy with keeping Kristina Arbociute at FIAU, despite all these scandals being revealed. Why do they keep defending her? What does she know about Malta’s top politicians and their friends?

Simon Oosterman
Simon Oosterman
2 months ago

They don’t need to explain. We know what is going on. She is a ‘friend’ and is rewarded for it. They have long given up trying to find justification for their actions because they couldn’t and it was not necessary.

Lawrence Mifsud
Lawrence Mifsud
1 month ago

Wasteserv will “Sort it out” for sure………….like they sort out the black bags from the grey ones.

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