Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, partners of the defunct firm Nexia BT that set up Panama accounts for Keith Schembri, Konrad Mizzi, and a third unidentified owner of a company called Egrant, have been struck off by the financial services regulator, the MFSA. They are now unable to hold any role or own any business in the financial services sector.
The decision was taken by the MFSA about 6 weeks ago but was only announced by the MFSA tonight.
A formal MFSA announcement said the authority decided that Brian Tonna and Karl Cini “can no longer be deemed as being fit and proper and to hold any approved positions.”
“The MFSA is prohibiting (Tonna and Cini) from accepting any new positions including as shareholder in entities or in relation to activities licensed and/or otherwise supervised by the MFSA and which necessitate the approval and/or authorisation of the Authority.”
The Authority said it would reconsider its decision when ongoing court cases against the two are concluded.
The decision is subject to appeal.
Two years ago the pair lost their warrants as accountants. They are undergoing criminal proceedings on charges of money laundering. They were charged alongside Keith Schembri in March 2021 after a magisterial inquiry found corruption and money laundering in a deal between Keith Schembri’s businesses and the company that owns the Times of Malta newspapers.
Brian Tonna was Malta’s representative of the now defunct Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal which revealed he provided money laundering and tax evasion schemes for high profile clients including Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi. A third company set up at the same time by Karl Cini, named Egrant, was the subject of an inquiry launched by then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat when faced with reporting by Daphne Caruana Galizia that the now defunct Pilatus Bank held evidence that Egrant belonged to the then prime minister’s wife and received illicit payments from Azerbaijan.
That inquiry did not find evidence that Egrant belonged to the Muscats. At the inquiry, Brian Tonna testified that Egrant never belonged to the Muscats and belonged, rather, to him. The same inquiry found that Karl Cini used to “create” documents which would “purport” to come from Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers leak. The inquiry ordered that Karl Cini is investigated for perjury.
Brian Tonna and Karl Cini’s Nexia BT was at the heart of Joseph Muscat’s schemes when he was prime minister. The firm drew up the tender document for the procurement of energy that would be awarded by a selection committee in which the firm participated to Electrogas, part-owned by a business owned by Yorgen Fenech for which Nexia BT served as auditors. A Parliamentary inquiry into the Electrogas contract is ongoing.
There are also outstanding criminal inquiries that concern Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, one in particular an inquiry into the revelations of corruption exposed by the Panama Papers leaks.