Keith Schem­bri’s lawyer says freez­ing or­der ‘dra­co­nian’, con­tem­plat­ing le­gal reme­dies

‘This is a PR stunt be­cause of who our client is’

Malta Independent - - Front Page - KEVIN SCHEM­BRI ORLAND

Keith Schem­bri’s lawyer, Ed­ward Gatt, de­scribed the freez­ing or­der is­sued on Mon­day against Keith Schem­bri, his fam­ily and com­pa­nies, as ‘dra­co­nian’, high­light­ing that they are con­tem­plat­ing le­gal reme­dies.

Gatt, while speak­ing to The Malta In­de­pen­dent, ex­pressed his be­lief that Schem­bri’s ar­rest was a PR stunt, ar­gu­ing that one can­not be dis­pro­por­tion­ate with Keith Schem­bri just be­cause of who he is.

Schem­bri was ar­rested on Tues­day, in­ter­ro­gated by the po­lice, and then let go on po­lice bail that evening.

Schem­bri’s ar­rest, along with that of Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, came af­ter a court or­dered the freez­ing of their as­sets, as well as the as­sets of sev­eral other in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies over pos­si­ble money laun­der­ing. The court or­der came just days af­ter the con­clu­sion of a mag­is­te­rial in­quiry into claims that Schem­bri took a €100,000 kick­back from Tonna, on pass­port sales. The in­quiry was re­quested by for­mer Op­po­si­tion Leader Si­mon Busut­til in April 2017 and the con­clu­sions are not yet pub­licly known.

On Tues­day, Keith Schem­bri’s lawyers had orig­i­nally said that their client was not go­ing to take part in the in­ter­ro­ga­tion process un­til the con­clu­sions of the mag­is­te­rial in­quiry on the al­leged kick­backs were made avail­able

to him. Speak­ing with The Malta In­de­pen­dent on Wed­nes­day, Gatt said that Schem­bri was ques­tioned af­ter they were given the dis­clo­sure of ev­i­dence they had asked for.

“The in­quiry had been go­ing on for the past three and a half years. We were privy to the acts of the in­quiry as the in­quir­ing mag­is­trate had granted ev­ery­one in­volved dis­clo­sure as per the law. We were not, how­ever, aware of the con­clu­sions. That was the only part that was not known to us.”

He said that the po­lice had, orig­i­nally, only given them par­tial dis­clo­sure of ev­i­dence.

“We filed a re­quest to the Mag­is­trate stat­ing that the po­lice were not abid­ing by the law and grant­ing us full dis­clo­sure. The Mag­is­trate is­sued a de­cree, rec­om­mend­ing the Po­lice Com­mis­sioner to act ac­cord­ing to law and grant us ma­te­rial dis­clo­sure. When the po­lice were no­ti­fied with the de­cree, they abided by the court or­der. We then got to know what the con­clu­sions were. My client was in­ter­ro­gated and then re­leased.”

Re­gard­ing the in­ter­ro­ga­tion, Gatt said that one needs to un­der­stand that this has been an “on­go­ing grilling for the past three and a half years, I can­not quite un­der­stand why some­one tried to restart the whole thing. I can un­der­stand that if the mag­is­trate rec­om­mended some in­ves­ti­ga­tion or to flag some­thing, then ob­vi­ously they have to act upon it, but not to start the whole process afresh. What the Mag­is­trate did was very thor­ough.”

Asked what the next steps will be, Gatt said: “I am un­der the im­pres­sion that this whole PR stunt is be­ing done be­cause the in­di­vid­ual hap­pens to be Keith Schem­bri.”

Gatt said: “You can­not over­re­act and be dis­pro­por­tion­ate be­cause he is Keith Schem­bri.”

“At the mo­ment, we are study­ing the sit­u­a­tion as that is what we think is hap­pen­ing. We think that it is be­ing over-done, ex­ag­ger­ated, and we be­lieve it is a pros­e­cu­to­rial tac­tic. We are not ready to ac­cept this. We are study­ing the sit­u­a­tion and see­ing how things are go­ing to evolve, even be­cause of the freez­ing or­der, which was quite dra­co­nian.”

“We are act­ing on it, study­ing it and con­tem­plat­ing le­gal reme­dies.”

“We have al­ways adopted this pol­icy that, when­ever the po­lice call for Schem­bri, he goes there and an­swers what he is asked.”

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