Magistrate Lia defends lawyer Lia

Magistrate Nadine Lia is digging her heels in. She’s been asked to recuse herself from a case that revolves around the clients of her father-in-law Pawlu Lia. She’s refused and defended the actions of her father-in-law.

Magistrate Lia is making a mockery of justice.  She’s squandering what little trust is left in the judicial process.  She’s reinforcing the widely held view that if you want justice, stay away from the courts.

Justice should be impartial but also seen to be impartial. Even if Magistrate Lia were the most upstanding, honest woman of integrity, nobody could be blamed for doubting the court’s impartiality when she insists on passing judgement in a case linked to her own father-in-law’s clients.

The Pilatus magisterial inquiry recommended that six Pilatus officials be prosecuted.  That inquiry concluded over a year ago.  Only one of those officials was charged.  The others haven’t been investigated, let alone prosecuted.  The court case is a challenge to the Attorney General and Police Commissioner to bring those five to justice.

Magistrate Lia was asked to recuse herself but adamantly refused to do so.  Her justification was that her father-in-law, Pawlu Lia, never represented any of those Pilatus officials.

Magistrate Lia is being disingenuous. The case is about why those five individuals still enjoy impunity from prosecution.  It’s about those who abused their power to shield Pilatus bank and its officials for years.  It’s about those desperate to stop Pilatus bank’s secrets from leaking out in open court.

Pilatus is intricately intertwined with Joseph Muscat and his wife Michelle.  An inquiry about the secret offshore company, Egrant, was meant to investigate whether the company belonged to Michelle Muscat.  After Nexia BT’s Karl Cini wrote that he would only reveal the identity of the company’s owner over a Skype video chat rather than by e-mail, Brian Tonna, now accused of falsifying documents, claimed the company was his. 

The Egrant inquiry failed to conduct any searches of Joseph or Michelle Muscat’s electronic devices.  Their home and offices were never searched. Yet the inquiry concluded it found no evidence to show Mrs Muscat owned Egrant. It’s hard to find anything if you don’t look in the right places. Unsurprisingly, the inquiry failed to identify the company’s owner.

Lawyer Pawlu Lia, the magistrate’s father-in-law, is Joseph Muscat’s lawyer.  He was involved in drawing up the terms of reference of the Egrant inquiry. He was also tasked with redacting sensitive information from the Egrant report. He was nominated by his client Joseph Muscat to sit on the Commission for Administration of Justice.

Pilatus is also linked to Keith Schembri, now accused of money laundering with the same Brian Tonna who stuck his neck out in the Egrant case.  Tonna paid €100,000, allegedly from selling golden passports to Schembri’s Pilatus bank account. Schembri unconvincingly claimed Tonna was simply repaying money he lent him when he faced hard times. 

Court evidence showed Tonna never faced hard times – he had plenty of cash in hand and his bank accounts. He didn’t need Schembri’s loan. Besides, neither Tonna nor Schembri could remember when and how the loan took place. Tonna was Schembri’s auditor, and borrowing money from your client is a serious breach of professional ethics. Pawlu Lia also represented Schembri until he was named in the Caruana Galizia murder investigation.

Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri and Yorgen Fenech travelled together to Tuscany to attend the wedding of Pilatus’ chairman Ali Sadr Hasheminejad.  They stayed at the lavish Florence Roccoforte Hotel at Hasheminejad’s expense.

Pilatus was also the bank of Azerbaijan’s ruling elite. The children of President Ilham Aliyev, Leyla and Arzu, were Pilatus Bank’s biggest clients. They used accounts at Pilatus bank to stash profits and funnel millions of dollars in secret investments.

Mayor Trans Ltd, a company purportedly owned by an Azerbaijani security officer, paid €1.4 million to Yorgen Fenech’s 17 Black, which received another €2.3 million from Crowbar Holdings SA owned by another Azerbaijani, Rovshan Tamrazov.

Pilatus bank and its officials hold many secrets. No wonder they’ve been protected for so long by the Maltese authorities.  No wonder it took the US Department of Justice to indict Pilatus’ chairman before Pilatus’ licence was finally withdrawn. No wonder the European Banking Authority found that Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit broke the law by failing to take anti-money laundering action against Pilatus.

Those with close links to Pilatus and its Azerbaijani clients will stop at nothing to keep those secrets hidden.

By refusing to recuse herself, Magistrate Lia raises even more suspicions.  Her comments become even more disturbing as her position becomes ever more untenable. The transcribed notarised copy of the magisterial inquiry presented by Repubblika “cannot be accepted as a true version,” she insisted.  

All she has to do to determine whether it’s a true copy is ask for the inquiry report from the Attorney General or the Police commissioner. But the magistrate appears more interested in finding out who leaked the report than in getting the truth.

If anybody had doubts about the magistrate’s unfitness to hear this case, those doubts were swiftly dispelled by the magistrate herself. Magistrate Lia defended her own father-in-law’s actions in her Court.  She referred to an incident where Pawlu Lia confronted Robert Aquilina as “a spontaneous incident”.  How did the magistrate know this was a spontaneous incident? Is that what her father-in-law told her?

Her own judgement condemns her.

Magistrate Lia announced in court that she received a threatening letter. Despicable as that may be, it doesn’t relieve the magistrate of her responsibility to deliver justice –  by recusing herself.

Justice demands there should be no doubt about the court’s impartiality. Instead, Magistrate Lia’s resistance confirms the conclusion of another inquiry – that the Maltese government created a culture of entrenched impunity.


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Francis Said
Francis Said
9 days ago

Hear hear. A factual article that unfortunately gives a very accurate snapshot of our faltering democracy.

Charles Falzon, Sliema
Charles Falzon, Sliema
8 days ago
Reply to  Francis Said

Further still the contents of the article highlight the pathetic uselessness of Malta being member of the Konfoffa Ewropeja who is supposedly there to see that all such abuses are NOT DONE.

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
9 days ago

Magistrate Nadine Lia gave herself away when she said that Dr Paul Lia never represented any of those Pilatus officials. How did she know. Did he tell her perhaps during a family gathering?

9 days ago

It seems to me that now republikka simply came too close to the truth. 

Now it’s all about the villains:
Not only about the ill-gotten money, it is about freedom here.
About the freedom to continue looting money.
About the freedom to move freely on the streets.
About the freedom not to lock the door!

About the judge Nadine Lia the truth can be delayed a little.
The so-called police commissioner Angelo Gala tries his remaining. 

The right is on the side of republikka.
It seems important to me what is not listed by the Nadine Lia in the reasons.

The clock is ticking faster and faster. 

BTW: Thank you Jason Azzopardi
Has anyone heard anything from the P.N. on this?

9 days ago

And we still gaze at these unfolding scandals day in day out. Mafiamalta has gone to the dogs..shame on this muvument korrot. Was the tattooed invictus meant that he (the most corrupt pm Malta ever had) had planned everything in advance?

A. Fan
A. Fan
8 days ago

I have been installed by your rightful rulers to ‘uphold the law’ — ergo, I am above the law. Go away, you pesky peons.

joe tedesco
joe tedesco
8 days ago


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