Banker informed Fenech of Europol’s investigation during 17 black hide-and-seek
The banks spotted by Tumas tycoon Yorgen Fenech to open accounts for him to allow him to deposit money held in the secret society 17 Black in Dubai, had refused his company during the first half of 2019 because Europol had informed them that he was under investigation for a non-financial matter. criminality.
In February 2019, Fenech was trying to find banks that would accept a deposit of 6.5 million dirhams (1.5 million euros) after UAE bank Noor closed its accounts for Wings Development, formerly 17 Black.
But his attempt to open an account in Monaco failed when banks were told by Europol that he was under investigation for a non-financial crime.
It was also around this time that both former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and his chief of staff Keith Schembri, according to Fenech’s statement to the police under arrest, actively inquired of him about the tapes. accused that Melvin Theuma, the intermediary in the Caruana Galizia assassination, had recorded.
At this point, as Fenech was attempting to clean up the traces of 17 Black, the company intended to act as a transaction relay for the Panamanian security companies of Schembri and Konrad Mizzi, the businessman was already a suspect in the assassination of Caruana Galizia.
Yet Muscat still had a cordial relationship with Fenech, inviting him to his birthday party at Girgenti in February 2019, he said on instructions from the Maltese security service to maintain a facade of normalcy. Muscat denied having inquired from Fenech about Theuma’s “conversations”. But at this point, his chief of staff Keith Schembri had access to MSS briefings on Fenech, his own business partner so to speak.
In April 2019, an Italian financier, Mirko Albertazzi, recommended banks in Monaco as well as Qatar and the Bahamas to Fenech to deposit the 17 black checks.
At that time, when Fenech was already under investigation, he sent two checks totaling AED 6.5 million, through Mohammed Shahzad Mohammad Ishaq in Dubai, to the Exolvo company in Monaco, for the attention of Albertazzi.
But when Albertazzi realized that the banks would not open an account for Fenech due to Europol’s relationship with banks, he informed a mutual link – Maltese businessman Paul Hili – that Fenech was in danger of being arrested if he went to the United Arab Emirates.
Albertazzi called Fenech’s position “very delicate” in a conversation he had with Hili, after a French banker informed him of the Europol report. He told Hili that Fenech was under direct Europol investigation into “certain crimes, not just financial”.
Albertazzi even said his contacts suggested he cut off contact with Fenech. Instead, he said he checked with the CEO of Banca Generali in Milan about Fenech’s situation, who told him he would fix the issue. “Yorgen will give him a little tip when it’s all done,” Albertazzi told Hili. “Believe me Paul, it is a great job and a favor that you are doing Yorgen.”
When in May 2019, Hili relayed the information from Albertazzi, Fenech reportedly responded with disbelief to the news of Europol’s interest in him.
Yet the tainted image of the Tumas tycoon has only worsened in court, with revelations that Fenech actively entertained dark web gun purchases and even cyanide poison. In August 2020, Police Inspector Kurt Zahra said while compiling evidence that Fenech was under investigation for attempting to import cyanide from a Ukraine-based laboratory. Fenech has actively investigated the dark web into acquiring weapons and even a grenade.
Shortly after Reuters / Times of Malta revelations that 17 Black belonged to Fenech, the businessman attempted to purchase an automatic rifle, pistol and hand grenades.
When in November 2019, Fenech and Caruana Galizia’s assassins, Melvin Theuma, was arrested, Fenech was actively seeking a way to escape Malta with his uncle, Ray Fenech, and his brother Franco Fenech as well as his mother. Plans were to either fly to Nice by private jet or fly to Sicily where he would be picked up by his brother to travel to Europe.
Fenech then spoke with the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Keith Schembri, on Signal, the night before his arrest as he left Portomaso marina aboard his yacht. Frightened by the news of a pardon for Melvin Theuma, Fenech asked if the police would knock on his door, for which Schembri reassured that nothing would happen and to keep his calm.
While lawyers for Yorgen Fenech have objected to the relevance of some of the discussions displayed in court during constitutional proceedings regarding Fenech’s denial of bail, Prosecution Inspector Keith Arnaud said their relevance lies in Fenech’s active escape plane.
Lawyer Thérèse Comodini Cachia, on behalf of the Caruana Galizia family, described it as “quite a plan” for moving abroad, detailing the houses seen and potential schools for the children of Fenech. Other conversations were those of Ray Fenech, informing his nephew that a certain “Ivan of the Times” had informed him that journalists from the newspaper were on their way to Portomaso, because they had heard of Yorgen’s imminent departure by yacht.
Fenech was arrested on November 20, 2019 as his yacht was leaving Portomaso marina. The arrest came hours after intermediary Theuma obtained a presidential pardon.