Livin’ (at) large in Dubai

Ahh, to be young and free in Dubai, especially when facing serious money laundering charges.

I’ve often wondered what became of the girl who had “the courage” to vote Labour back when Electrogas was still just a twinkle in Konrad Mizzi’s eye.

I suppose you could say Florinda Sultana went through a bit of a rough patch. What terrible luck to be charged with money laundering at the age of 29. And just when she seemed to be doing so well.

Sultana was managing several restaurants that investigators claim were being used to clean cash for a fuel smuggling operation her stepfather Darren Debono had gotten involved in with Libyan militias and Italian organized crime.

The €30 million scheme was busted by Italian investigators, who somehow keep getting the scoop on crimes happening in Malta’s backyard.

When police searched Sultana’s home, they found €52,000 in cash, an Audi A1 and luxury watches, among other clear markers of her business prowess.

US Treasury Department sanctions against Debono and his various enterprises had put a pretty big dent in that business, forcing Scoglitti restaurant in Valletta to close. It reopened again two months later as Porticello, thanks to a little presto change-o and a new sign.

This didn’t fool the Americans for very long. They updated their blacklist to include Porticello, but Malta’s brightest and best continued to dine there, including MP Rosianne Cutajar, who proudly posted her meal online.

There was just one hitch. Landing on a US sanctions list meant customers could no longer pay with Visa or other cards. The situation called for Maltese cunning, and Porticello rose to the occasion, ordering an ATM online and placing it right next to the wine cooler.

The restaurant continues to flourish to this day, apparently under court supervision, operating on a cash-only basis because no local bank will touch it.

In the meantime, Florinda Sultana, Labour’s 2013 TV advert star, is living it up in Dubai, where she’s been posting a steady stream of photos for her admirers.

Never one to let a swimsuit pic pass him by, fellow Dubai aficionado ‘Chris Cardona MP’ was quick to like a particularly tasteful shot of Sultana posing in a one-piece with the phallic silhouette of the Burj Khalifa thrusting proudly into the sky behind her.

Former Parliamentary Secretary for the Peddling of Passports Alex Muscat is also a fan.

Okay, yes, it seems like a bit of a risk to let someone charged with money laundering jet off to a country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Malta, especially when so much cash is involved. But Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech is handling the case, and I’m sure she knows what she’s doing.

Just last week, the magistrate granted bail to Ryan Schembri after ruling that the former More supermarket owner wasn’t a criminal fugitive when he drove his Mercedes onto the ferry to Sicily and then caught a flight to Dubai in 2014, leaving over €40 million in debt behind him. I’m sure he only went to the trouble because air tickets were cheaper in Catania.

The Times of Malta tracked him down there in 2015, but he just happened to be in the midst of changing hotels. He popped up again in London and Scotland, travelling to the UK often enough that police could have nabbed him with an international arrest warrant. But I guess they were busy with other things.

He was finally extradited in April of this year after getting a speeding ticket in Scotland. He’d always intended to come back and sort things out, says his lawyer, just not right now.

Anyway, as Magistrate Frendo Dimech so clearly determined, the only reason to deny someone bail is if the court is afraid he might run away. It’s not like he’s going to sneak off to a jurisdiction that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with Malta. Dubai, for example.

The first time didn’t count because he hadn’t been charged with anything yet. He may have been a fugitive, but he wasn’t technically a ‘criminal fugitive’.

The magistrate is well aware of just how important details are when it comes to money laundering. She’s also presiding over high-profile financial crime cases against Keith Schembri, Adrian Hillman, Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, among others.

Those involved can rest assured their fate is in capable hands.

                           
                               
guest

19 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
saviour mamo
saviour mamo
12 days ago

Old habits die hard, and some people show it.

Winston Smith
Winston Smith
12 days ago

The three branches of Maltese ‘democracy’: The legislative (Is there any doubt that many of our governing politicians are corrupt?) Our executive:(Has our police force refused to investigate obvious crimes.) Finally our judiciary: (Are members of our judiciary enabling criminals to continue to commit crimes with impunity?) If so, my fellow Maltese, you don’t live in a democracy.

carlos
carlos
12 days ago
Reply to  Winston Smith

Like everything else starting from education.

Mario Garrett
12 days ago
Reply to  carlos

Yes…follow the breeding nest

Malcolm
Malcolm
12 days ago
Reply to  Winston Smith

We don’t live in a democracy but most of the population enjoys it so the rest of us can do nothing about it. Just live in anger, frustration and hope, until the last one runs out, we pack and leave. If not us, we make sure our children do.

Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
12 days ago
Reply to  Winston Smith

We can also say that ‘technically’ – the flawed democracy in Malta where impunity continues to grow – is a ‘banana republic’.

Francis Said
Francis Said
12 days ago

Another stone that should be the foundation of Democracy and the Rule of Law is rapidly crumbling.

simon oosterman
simon oosterman
12 days ago

It is all so blatant!

carlos
carlos
12 days ago

MAFIAMALTA controlled by a supermafia muvument.

D.V
D.V
12 days ago

Golden Vote Holders Only Club!

Gaetano Pace
Gaetano Pace
12 days ago

Is that supposed to be c`est la vie on the side ? If it is then she need not pose any more to let us know the cheap media she employs for her posing plight.

Bamboccu
Bamboccu
11 days ago

F’kelma wahda…..DARDIRA.

Toni Borg
Toni Borg
11 days ago

is there anyone which is not corrupt in Malta? even at the Law Courts???

Danny
Danny
11 days ago

Even the glamour of Dubai can’t hide her vulgarity.

Philip Grech
Philip Grech
11 days ago

Kemm nieħu pjaċir naqra fuq ir-rettezza ta DFD. €$£.

N Scerri
N Scerri
11 days ago

It seems this Frendo is handling all cases of Mafia running our country.Is this by coincidence.

G.Carlin
G.Carlin
11 days ago

Seriously, why not seek real justice by locking up a few members of the judiciary who are doing anything BUT their duty.

Nitsuga
Nitsuga
11 days ago

if a foreigner wants to know the proper definition of the word ‘hamalla’, just share with that person her instagram and voilà. nailed it.

Tania
Tania
10 days ago

How was she able to travel if she is facing money laundering charges?

Related Stories

The boys are back in town
Malta’s part-time prime minister is on holiday again. Not
Magistrate Lia defends lawyer Lia
Magistrate Nadine Lia is digging her heels in. She’s

Our Awards and Media Partners

Award logo Award logo Award logo