Court thwarts bid to stop Satabank €1.5m release to ‘dirty oil’ suspect
04 Nov 2019

Malta’s financial regulator has lost a bid to stop the shuttered Satabank from releasing funds from the bank account of an offshore company belonging to ‘Dirty Oil’ suspect Gordon Debono.

Debono is facing criminal charges related to a €30 million oil-smuggling ring in Catania, Sicily, together with conspirators Darren Debono, the former Malta footballer, and Libyan ‘smuggling king’ Fahmi Slim Bin Khalifa.

Gordon Debono ran several companies involved in the trading of oil to various multinationals from his Portomaso office, where Satabank also had its headquarters.

But apart from his Malta firm, Debono also has offshore companies with an account at Satabank, the monies of which have been frozen since the bank went under controllership.

Yet an attempt by the MFSA to stop the Satabank cash from being released to one of Debono’s offshore companies – to repay a loan from another offshore company probably owned by his own wife – was thrown out by a court of appeal.

The decision concerns the powers of a first court in stopping Satabank from executing the withdrawal of OSC’s deposits, over money laundering concerns. The Appeals Court believes there is no grounds to stop the withdrawal, because the money will still have to be scrutinised for money laundering purposes.

At the heart of the matter is the MFSA’s bid to stop Debono’s company Oil & Ship Consultancy (OSC) of Belize, from using money in Satabank to pay back a €1.5 million from Dubai company International Properties and Investment Ltd (IPIL). As it turns out, IPIL’s ‘board of directors’ is represented by Gordon Debono’s wife Yvette.

In July 2018 the two companies went to a Cypriot court, which recognised the constitution of debt between OSC and IPIL, that reached a ‘court settlement’ for €1.5 million and 3.5% interest. The loan agreement was created just a month before Gordon Debono’s arrest in Sicily in late October 2017. Yvette Debono was only transferred the Dubai company’s shares in March 2018 from a corporate service provider.

By Matthew Vella, Malta Today, 4 November 2019

Read more at Malta Today

Photo: VillageHero [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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