Gordon Debono among three charged with money laundering

Miguela Xuereb

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Three individuals have been charged with money laundering on Wednesday evening.

Gordon Debono along with his wife Yvette, and Shawn Higgins, a stevedore, were arraigned at 7pm before Magistrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo.

Gordon Debono (46) alone stands charged with making false declarations to auditors, destroying or falsifying official documents and fraudulently disposing of documents, in his role as company officer of Petroplus previously known as Tiko Tiko Ltd.

The couple were also charged through their roles as directors of 11 companies, all of which were listed as defendants. Freezing orders were also imposed on the companies, which are Hi-Low Properties Ltd, Petroplus Ltd, KB Investments Ltd, KB Lines Ltd, Seabras Ltd, Petrobunkers Ltd, Oil and Ship Ltd, Gorge Ltd, S-Cape Yacht Charter Ltd, S-Cape Ltd, and Yves Ltd.

The prosecution led by Police Inspectors Joseph Xerri, Omar Caruana and James Turner, objected to a bail request filed on behalf of the accused. It maintained that the case involves the laundering of millions of euros. Several witnesses will be summoned to testify in the proceedings. Furthermore, the prosecution argued the risk of absconding was high.

Defence lawyer Roberto Montalto maintained that Gordon Debono was already on bail for other very similar charges filed against him in Italy and so this diminished the risk of him absconding. He maintained that the alleged offence took place in 2013, adding that it was difficult to tamper with the evidence. The defence also said that Yvette (45) had suffered from an epilepsy and the couple has three children while making bail submissions.

Magistrate Farrugia Frendo turned down the request for bail for the couple and Higgins.

Lawyers Elaine Mercieca and Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango appeared on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office.

The court orders a ban on publication

Two former footballers were arraigned in court on Monday, Times of Malta revealed. Newsbook.com.mt verified the information independently. The names of the two accused had been published.

On Tuesday, a court ordered a ban on the publication of names involved in the case or of the crimes they are alleged to have committed. But the ban was only communicated to media houses on Wednesday morning, more than 24 hours after the arraignment.

Criminal lawyer Arthur Azzopardi out on police bail

MaltaToday has reported that criminal lawyer Arthur Azzopardi who was also among the individuals arrested during the anti-money laundering operation was released on police bail. Azzopardi was interrogated over fuel smuggling and money laundering allegations.

The lawyer reportedly spent a night in custody and was interrogated under caution in connection with money laundering allegations relating to third parties who he stressed were unrelated to the persons arraigned in court.