Two companies owned by Nexia BT’s Brian Tonna are barred from taking on new clients and must avoid providing new services to existing clients, according to enforcement measures issued by the Malta Financial Services Authority.
This is the MFSA’s first action against Tonna since the 2016 Panama Papers scandal revealed that he set up dubious off-shore structures for several government officials, including former OPM Chief of Staff Keith Schembri and ex-minister Konrad Mizzi.
BTI Management and BT International Limited must also inform their clientele of recent developments and the impact on their services, a statement by the MFSA read.
This comes as Net News reported that the company is closing its doors in the wake of the arrests of its managing director Brian Tonna and director Karl Cini in connection to alleged kickbacks from the state’s citizenship-by-investment scheme.
It reported that roughly 100 people have been let go. Lovin Malta has been attempting to reach out to Nexia BT for comment.
Nexia BT’s assets were recently frozen as part of a court order that extended to former Prime Minister’s Chief-of-Staff Keith Schembri.
All three men were arrested this week but none have been charged with the money-laundering crime.
Just two days before its assets were frozen, Nexia BT revealed that would no longer offer advisory, accounting and audit services, and that rival firm Reanda Malta would take over several areas of the company.
However, Reanda Malta has outright denied this. It remains to be seen whether any company took over the assets.
“Reanda Malta Limited has not received business from Messrs Nexia BT and will not be receiving any such business. Consequently, there is no ‘hive off’ and or transfer of any business taking place,” it said.
According to a leaked report by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU), Tonna transferred two €50,000 payments through Pilatus Bank to Schembri in what is believed to have been part of a passport kickbacks scheme.
Both men have denied any wrongdoing and said the €100,000 was the repayment of a personal loan given to Tonna by Schembri while the former underwent separation proceedings.
The loan was repaid through Willerby Trading, a British Virgin Islands shell company secretly owned by Tonna.
The same FIAU report also raised suspicions of the loan document presented to the bank to justify the payments after finding no trace of the original loan payment by Schembri to Tonna.
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