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Oil scandal goes to court - Frank Sammut disclosed information on other suspects

Tancred Tabone, Frank Sammut arraigned, granted bail - AG considering appeal

Updated - Adds charges, videos

Former Enemalta Chairman Tancred Tabone and petrochemist Frank Sammut have been arraigned in court and accused of corruption in the oil procurement scandal. Both pleaded not guilty and were granted bail.

The first to be arraigned was Mr Tabone who was accused of aggravated bribery, a charge which carries a maximum jail term of 14 years.

According to the charge sheet, Mr Tabone was also accused of bribery through his involvement in Island Bunker Oils Ltd, FP Holdings Ltd, Eldaren Shipping Lrd, Oarsman Maritime Ltd, Anchor Bay Maritime Ltd and Island Oils Holding Ltd .

He was also accused of being an accomplice in the disclosure of profession information given to him in virtue of his public office, defrauding Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Ltd (an Enemalta subsidiary) and money laundering.

Mr Tabone, a former president of the Chamber of Commerce, categorically denied the charges and was granted bail. Bail was set against a personal guarantee of €15,000 and a deposit of €3,000. The police objected to bail, with Inspector Gafa explaining that Mr Tabone had not cooperated with the police investigation and that, therefore, evidence in his respect, relied on witnesses, such as George Farrugia, who would still need to testify in future sittings.

Defence counsel Gianella de Marco rejected that Mr Tabone had not cooperated with the police, saying her client had simply availed himself of the right not to reply to certain questions. However he had obeyed the police fully in respect to the conditions of his police bail.

Mr Sammut was arraigned separately and faced the same charges. He was granted bail under the same conditions. During the arraignment, the prosecuting police inspector, Angelo Gafa' said that Mr Sammut had fully cooperated with the police had helped then with information on other suspects.

Lawyers Gianella de Marco and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for Mr Tabone and Joe Giglio for Mr Sammut.

The two were re-arrested yesterday and spent the night at police headquarters in Floriana. They were taken to the law court in two unmarked police cars which drove into the court garage.

The court hall was full of people, including many journalists as well as the families of the accused.

The arraignment comes just over a week after the granting of a presidential pardon to businessman  George Farrugia, the local agent of Dutch oil company Trafigura to tell all on the case.

Both the accused were ordered by Magistrate Gabriella Vella not to have contact with Mr Farrugia.

The Office of the Attorney General is considering an appeal over bail and the bail conditions.

The police in the past weeks also questioned Tony Cassar, Chairman of Cassar Ship Repair and Francis Portelli, of Virtu Ferries.

It has been alleged that Mr Sammut received kickbacks on oil contracts awarded to  Trafigura in 2004.

Separately, the police also investigated the role of the oil storage company Island Bunker Oils as well as a chain of subsidiary companies which belong to Mr Tabone, Mr Cassar and Mr Portelli.

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