Nexia partners Tonna, Cini struck off MFSA register pending criminal charges

Panama Papers-linked auditors who aided former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri, have been struck off register of corporate services providers

Brian Tonna and Karl Cini
Brian Tonna and Karl Cini

The former partners in the Nexia BT accountancy firm that was embroiled in the Panama Papers scandal have been struck off the Maltese financial regulator’s list of approved corporate services providers.

Brian Tonna and Karl Cini, both still facing charges in court related to financial misdemeanours in connection with businessman Keith Schembri, who served as chief of staff to former prime minister Joseph Muscat, are no longer deemed as being fit and proper and to hold any approved positions.

On 2 December 2022, the MFSA decided that Tonna and Cini can no longer be deemed as being “fit and proper” in terms of the Company Services Providers Act.

“The MFSA is prohibiting Mr Tonna from accepting any new positions including as shareholder in entities or in relation to activities licensed or otherwise supervised by the MFSA and which necessitate the approval or authorisation of the Authority,” the MFSA said of both Tonna and Cini.

The prohibition will remain in place until such time as the criminal proceedings against Tonna and Cini are ongoing or until judgement delivered in the criminal proceedings against them is settled and exhausted. “The Authority will at that stage consider whether to vary, alter, add to or withdraw the directive after consulting such ruling,” the MFSA said.

The MFSA’s decision may be appealed before the Financial Services Tribunal within the periods as prescribed by the applicable law.

Tonna and Cini, as well as former Nexia partner and employee Manuel Castagna and Katrin Bondin Carter, face harges of money laundering and other financial crimes in relation to inquiries involving Keith Schembri. They are pleading not guilty.

Police officers from the Financial Crimes Investigation Department listed a series of transactions, involving thousands and sometimes millions of euros, connected to the four accused as well as offshore companies to their name. Police also traced money funnelled from the Kasco Group that belongs to Schembri.

The four were charged alongside seven other people, including Schembri, last month over various financial crimes.

All have been given bail as the cases against them continue.

More in Business