BREAKING/Keith Schembri increases shareholding of secret BVI company from 1 share to 50,000 in May 2013; takes steps to conceal his ownership that month

Published: May 6, 2016 at 2:14pm

Note: This company, Colson Services Ltd, is registered in the British Virgin Islands and is a completely separate company to Tillgate Inc, which is registered in Panama. Both are owned by Keith Allen Schembri, the Prime Minister’s chief of staff. Colson Services Ltd was set up in 2011 and Tillgate Ltd in 2013. The current scandal is about Tillgate Inc in Panama, but this operation in the British Virgin Islands is equally scandalous given the post-March 2013 changes.

You might want to read this report about Brian Tonna’s own British Virgin Islands company, Willerby Inc, if you haven’t done so already. It was shared 11,400 times on Facebook directly from this website, and details how Tonna, who has a desk in the Office of the Prime Minister, set up his secret BVI company to invoice his Malta company for the sale of Maltese citizenship.


On 24 January 2011, Keith Schembri set up a company in the British Virgin Islands. The company is called Colson Services Ltd, and its BVI registration number is 1628409. He was the sole director and also the sole shareholder, of a single share.

At the time Schembri was already a politically exposed person, as the Opposition leader’s closest associate, leader of the Labour Party’s election strategy team, and head of the Labour Party’s ‘energy committee’.

Two months after the Labour Party won the 2013 general election, Schembri took steps to conceal his ownership of Colson Services Ltd. At the same time, he increased the number of shares to 50,000, cancelled his single share certificate, and gave instructions for a new share certificate to be issued in the name of a nominee company owned by Mossack Fonseca in Panama, ATC Nominees Inc.

This means that Colson Services Ltd is registered in the British Virgin Islands, a secret jurisdiction, but the secrecy was increased post-March 2013 when Schembri transferred the shares to a nominee company in the far more secretive Panama and appointed a Panamanian ‘front’ director.

On 7 May 2013, Schembri resigned as director of Colson Services Ltd. That same day, Jaqueline Alexander was appointed nominee director instead. Alexander is a ‘name of convenience’ used by ATC Nominees Inc to front for the real owners of thousands of companies which are clients of Mossack Fonseca.

That same day, Schembri gave instructions for his single-share certificate to be cancelled and another share certificate to be issued instead, for a total of 50,000 shares. He also gave instructions for those shares to be held by ATC Nominees Inc.

On 7 May 2013, too, Schembri wrote to Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd, on a letterhead with his home address in Mellieha, formally confirming that he would “indemnify” (settle/be legally responsible for) all expenses and costs incurred for Colson Services Ltd.

Two weeks later, on 22 May 2013, Brian Tonna wrote to Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd, on a Nexia BT letterhead, giving a professional reference for “Keith Schembri, residing at C4, St Mary Gardens, Triq Iz-Zebbug, Mellieha MLH02, Malta”. Nowhere does he mention that Schembri, who was at that point already chief of staff to the prime minister of a European Union member state, is a politically exposed person.

Instead, Tonna did the opposite, and told Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd that there is no reason why they should not act on Schembri’s behalf or provide business services to him.

He wrote:

I confirm that we have known Mr Keith Schembri for the last eighteen years acting as his accountants in relation to his various companies in Malta and that the above address is the address shown in our records for him. I have also acted as his personal adviser.

I confirm that we know him to be a person of integrity, honesty and good character, and that there is no reason why you should not act on his behalf or provide business services to him.”

On 27 May 2013, HSBC Bank Malta plc provided BTI Management Ltd (a company wholly owned by Brian Tonna personally; BTI stands for Brian Tonna International) with an ‘information report’ on Keith Allen Schembri.

The bank, too, failed to mention the crucial piece of information that Keith Schembri is a politically exposed person who had recently taken up the position of chief of staff to the Prime Minister of Malta. Nor was it circumspect in view of the then already widely circulating allegations of graft involving the new set-up at Allied Newspapers Ltd/Progress Press Co Ltd., and Schembri’s deep involvement with Labour Party donors. Instead, the bank wrote:

Known to us for a number of years as honest and trustworthy and unlikely to enter into commitments he would be unable to fulfill. Highly esteemed in his business circles. Considered to be a good business relationship.”

Because HSBC Bank Malta was asked to submit this reference to BTI Management Ltd in Malta, it may not have been aware that the ultimate intended recipient was actually Mossack Fonseca & Co (BVI) Ltd, to whom this glowing bank reference was submitted immediately.

UPDATE: Read this important update about how the bank documents may be fraudulent.

Finally, on 5 July 2013, Keith Schembri reacquired control of his secret BVI company by having the nominee director, Jacqueline Alexander, give a power of attorney to Brian Tonna and Karl Cini. This means that Tonna and Cini, since four months after Labour won the general election, have had full administrative control. via a POA, of the Prime Minister’s chief of staff’s secret company in the British Virgin Islands. Brian Tonna has a desk in the Office of the Prime Minister.