How Keith Schembri, Adrian Hillman and Malcolm Scerri laundered a minimum of $2.5 million through the British Virgin Islands after March 2013

Published: May 9, 2017 at 9:35pm

In 2011, the three individuals who led the construction of a €30 million printing press gave instructions to Mossack Fonseca in Panama to set up secret companies in the British Virgin Islands for each of them.

The printing press was for Progress Press, sister company to Allied Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the Times of Malta and The Sunday Times, and is its largest investment ever.

The individuals in question were Keith Schembri, who is now the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, Adrian Hillman, who was then the managing director of Progress Press and Allied Newspapers and the man ultimate in charge of decisions on purchasing, and Malcolm Scerri, a key officer in Schembri’s Kasco business and now its group CEO.

Kasco was the main supplier to this project, on which Hillman took the decisions for his employers.

Their three secret companies were conceived as ‘sister’ companies – or perhaps that should be ‘brother’ as in brotherhood. They were set up in concert with each other, in the same jurisdiction, by the same corporate services provider. They are called Colson Services Ltd (Keith Schembri), Lester Holding Corp (Adrian Hillman) and Selson Holding Corp (Malcolm Scerri).

But when one of the brotherhood came to power as the Prime Minister’s chief of staff, more secrecy was needed for these already very secret companies.

On 19 April 2013, a month after the Labour Party won the general election, Mossack Fonseca’s office in the British Virgin Islands was sent three separate letters by these men, ordering changes to their companies and also asking for bank accounts to be opened.

Keith Schembri’s and Adrian Hillman’s letters explicitly state: “That a bank account is opened in the name of the company. The choice of the bank will be communicated by my agents in Malta.” The agents were Brian Tonna and Karl Cini of Nexia BT.

All three letters state that full powers over the companies are to be given to Tonna or Cini. The three companies were then used to launder a minimum of $2.5 million as shown in documents in the Panama Papers.

Utilities bill used as proof of address when Hillman’s company was set up in the British Virgin Islands