Nexia BT partners Brian Tonna and Karl Cini have had their accounting warrants suspended in light of their recent arrest on suspicion of money laundering.
In a statement this evening, the Accountancy Board said it appointed a disciplinary committee to look into the firm following the conclusion of a magisterial inquiry into an alleged €100,000 kickback by Tonna to former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri.
“In view of this, the Board has temporarily suspended the CPA Warrants and Practising Certificates in Auditing of Mr Brian Tonna and Mr Karl Cini, as well as the registration of Nexia BT, BTI Management Limited and Nexia BT Advisory Services Limited,” the Accountancy Board statement reads.
“The Board exercises its powers in accordance with Maltese and European law, in full respect of the fundamental human rights of the person and the rule of law.”
Back in 2017, then PN leader Simon Busuttil called for a magisterial inquiry into a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit which flagged two suspicious €50,000 payments from Tonna to Schembri via Pilatus Bank.
Tonna and Schembri have insisted this was a repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna during his separation proceedings, but the FIAU suspected this was a kickback to Schembri on the sale of Maltese citizenship to a family of three Russian nationals.
The inquiry has not been made public, but Schembri, Tonna and Cini were both arrested shortly after its conclusion, strongly indicating the inquiry’s conclusions are damning. No charges have been issued yet and the three men are currently out on police bail.