Tista’ taqra dan l-artiklu bil-Malti hawn.
Florinda Sultana, the 31-year-old ‘restaurant manager’ who had all her assets frozen by court order in connection with ongoing money laundering charges, does not seem to be very bothered by the paltry monthly income she is allowed to withdraw from her bank account to supposedly just make ends meet.
Following accusations in January 2021 that she was involved in a money laundering ring linked to her alleged oil-smuggling multi-millionaire businessman stepfather, former international footballer Darren Debono, she has continued to live the lavish lifestyle and has been globetrotting the world on a near-monthly basis.
Acquaintances of Sultana have told The Shift that in between attending court sessions, which are being presided over by Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech and in which Sultana is facing the prospect of imprisonment, she has spent most of her time travelling overseas – raising suspicions that cash is still flowing in despite the court’s order.
Earlier this week, The Shift ran a story about how Sultana was living it large in the United Arab Emirates by the looks of her flashy social media posts.
A further delve into Sultana’s social media profiles shows the former theatre actress, who made headlines in 2013 with her ‘courage to vote Labour’ electoral campaign video, was travelling almost every month, mostly on long holidays with her boyfriend, until just a few weeks ago.
Since the court’s freezing order was imposed in January 2021, Sultana has uploaded social media posts flaunting her travels in places such as Capri, Thailand, Turkey, Cancun, Florence, St Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, Viareggio, Bali, Indonesia, Verona, Manchester, Taormina, Paris, Dubai and other exotic destinations.
In her posts Sultana does not seem to be having many sleepless nights over the charges she is facing back home, with various admirers – including many former Labour Party politicians such as Chris Cardona, Alex Muscat and Silvio Parnis – ‘liking’ her posts and commenting on her living the good life.
Apart from her overseas travels, Sultana also regularly puts up posts promoting the Porticello restaurant in Valletta, which she used to manage until she was arrested and arraigned in court.
According to the accusations, the restaurant is one of many that her stepfather Darren Debono allegedly used to launder proceeds from the multi-million-euro international fuel smuggling business in which he was involved with the Libyan militia.
Sultana was arraigned in January 2021 together with former Banif Bank Manager Albert Buttigieg. They were accused of involving themselves in several companies that operated the Porticello restaurant – formerly Scoglitti – in Valletta as well as Capo Mulini in Marsaxlokk, which were both allegedly involved in massive money laundering activities related to Debono’s illicit activities.
Upon her arraignment, all of Florinda Sultana’s assets – including all her bank accounts around the world, immovable property and all other possessions – were supposed to have been seized by the authorities. The only exception was an allowance to withdraw some €1,200 a month, up to €13,976 a year, for her to be able to get by and survive.
Her companies, MS1 Catering Limited and Nesvan Company Ltd, also had all their assets frozen. Porticello, which accepts only cash payments, is still operating although under court surveillance.
The freezing orders are all still in place and have not in any way been varied by the court, except for a one-off permission Sultana was granted by Magistrate Frendo Dimech to withdraw an undisclosed sum from her accounts to pay her defence lawyers Stefano Filletti and Martina Cuschieri.
Sources close to the case told The Shift that while it is obvious from Sultana’s own behaviour on social media that she has access to funds from other sources, “as it is impossible to travel every month with €1,200 every four weeks”, the court and the police are also playing with fire by allowing Sultana to leave the country so frequently as though nothing was wrong.
“This is just an indication of how easy it would be for Sultana to just leave and not return to Malta to face justice. It also seems that money is not an issue. Let’s just hope that the authorities know what they are doing,” the sources said.
It is not yet known whether the police are also looking into how Sultana has continued to finance her lavish lifestyle despite the court’s freezing order.
Police sources told The Shift that Sultana has, so far, not been spoken to although the police are aware of her travels and apparent expenditure.