Accountants Brian Tonna and Karl Cini of Panama Papers fame may have been struck from the Malta Financial Services Authority’s register until the money laundering court cases against them have concluded, but neither they nor the now defunct Nexia BT accountancy firm has been fined by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, according to its website.
This despite the fact that the firm has been on its radar since the Panama Papers and with the unit increasingly cracking down on notaries, lawyers and smaller companies for administrative deficiencies. Their only recourse when fined is before the court of appeal.
The Shift is informed there are now 16 constitutional cases against FIAU, with a decision on the first of them expected by the end of March.
But when it comes to Nexia BT, Cini and Tonna, it could very well be that the FIAU is waiting for court proceedings to wrap up before instituting fines.
Cini and Tonna will also have to wait for court proceedings to come to an end if they expect to take up accountancy or act in the financial services sector again after the MFSA took steps against Tonna and Cini earlier this month, more than 22 months since they were first brought to court.
The MFSA’s decision against the two accountants – known for setting up financial structures for former minister Konrad Mizzi and Office of the Prime chief of staff Minister Keith Schembri in Panama and New Zealand – means they cannot hold new positions or shareholdings in any registered firm.
The decisions that Tonna and Cini were no longer “fit and proper” for any role in financial services were taken on 2 December but were only made public by the MFSA on 18 January.
The prohibition will remain in place until the criminal proceedings against Tonna and Cini are settled and exhausted.
“The Authority will, at that stage, consider will whether to vary, alter, add to or withdraw the directive after consulting such ruling,” the MFSA said.
The MFSA’s decision may be appealed before the Financial Services Tribunal but so far it is not known if either Tonna or Cini will be doing so.
Tonna and Cini also had their accountancy warrants suspended in 2020 and are facing a raft of charges in court including money laundering and falsifying documents, among others.
When he was summoned before the Public Accounts Committee on Monday, Cini invoked his right to not answer any questions, none at all, for fear of incriminating himself further in ongoing criminal proceedings.
Called to testify before the PAC’s MPs on the ElectroGas power station deal, as Nexia BT had representatives on an evaluation committee for the power plant’s bidder selection process, Cini would not even state his position at the firm.
Cini also refused to answer questions on his dealings with former prime minister Joseph Muscat, Keith Schembri or Konrad Mizzi, and other protagonists in the ElectroGas deal including former ElectroGas director Yorgen Fenech.
Hello FIAU, aren’t you ashamed? How low can you go?
FIAU is very strong with the weak and very weak with the strong. That is the conclusion. The members of the FIAU’s Central Monitoring Committee should be investigated. Let’s not forget that FIAU’s Deputy Director Alfred Zammit signed off a letter to Pilatus Bank saying that all was well at this money laundering machine.
What will happen once the FIAU loses the constitutional cases? Who will be held accountable for the damages they caused to small fish, just to save their own personal skin?
Why did the MFSA act some 5 years late?! That is the multi million euro question.