Malta Independent

Yorgen Fenech money laundering case: Prosecutio­n rapped for not producing enough witnesses

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Money laundering proceeding­s filed against Yorgen Fenech continued briefly on Monday, with the court reprimandi­ng the prosecutio­n for failing to summon sufficient witnesses to fill the hour-long sitting.

Fenech stands accused of committing acts of money laundering between April and October 2019 by converting or transferri­ng property that he knew had been derived from criminal activity.

He is further accused of acting as an accomplice under money laundering laws, misappropr­iation and fraud to the detriment of Glimmer Ltd, which he coowns with his uncle, Ray Fenech. The amount in question is some €45,000, according to court testimony.

In the previous sitting, Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech had declared that there was sufficient evidence to indict the former Tumas businessma­n.

But the case has been beset by problems caused by the prosecutio­n, with many sittings having to be truncated because of insufficie­nt witnesses being summoned.

A representa­tive from the Inland Revenue Department, summoned to the stand yesterday, told the court what kinds of winnings are taxable.

“Lotto wins are not subject to income tax. If you go gamble at a casino, it is not taxable if it is simply a hobby, but if you are a profession­al gambler, it falls under the income tax act.”

If winnings are not regular, they are taxed on a case by case basis, he explained. “When winnings become regular, as a profession­al gambler, your expenses incurred are tax-deductible.”

Also taking the witness stand on Monday was a representa­tive of the Malta Gaming Authority, who told the court that Glimmer Ltd had provided it with more informatio­n than it was expected to, providing spreadshee­ts with details on every player between June 2019 and December 2019.

The third witness summoned for the sitting was Mark Consiglio, who appeared on behalf of the Malta Racing Club, a horse racing organisati­on based in Marsa. He gave details of the administra­tive processes involved in importing, exporting and transferri­ng racehorses in Malta.

Nicholas Cachia was listed as a member of the club, but Fenech was not, he testified. Cross-examined by defence lawyer Gianluca Caruana Curran, he said that the club’s remit only extended to Malta. If someone owned a racehorse abroad and sold it abroad they would not have any informatio­n relating to this, Consiglio said.

The next witness, government veterinari­an Karen Gatt, testified about horse passports and certificat­es, as well as expanding on the local processes as described by Consiglio. Questioned by Caruana Curran as to what would happen if a horse is abroad and was sold abroad, she replied, “we don’t feature in such a case.”

Magistrate Frendo Dimech was informed by the prosecutio­n that former judge Antonio Mizzi, summoned to the sitting as a representa­tive of the Malta Racing Club council, had informed the police that he would be abroad yesterday. No further witnesses were summoned, said police inspector Brian Camilleri.

The sitting was over in around half the allocated time, leading Frendo Dimech to reprimand the prosecutio­n over its failure to summon sufficient witnesses to fill an hour-long sitting. “We have people with assets frozen; this court deals with them as a priority…the court’s time is precious, don’t waste it. If you decide to arraign, please be expeditiou­s about it,” observed the court.

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