Prosecution slammed for ‘fishing expedition’ in Pilatus money laundering case by defence

Last Updated on Tuesday, 9 November, 2021 at 2:11 pm by Andre Camilleri

A lawyer defending a former Pilatus Bank director has slammed a request by the prosecution to have court-appointed experts extract and analyse data from the accused’s computers, saying this should have been done before pressing charges.

Today as the money laundering case against Claude Anne Sant Fournier continued before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, police witnesses testified about searches involving Sant Fournier, as well as several former employees, including the bank’s Chief Financial Officer.

All witnesses said that they worked at a time when the bank had no clients and had no relationship with Sant Fournier, except the Chief Financial Officer, who had given her a two-week handover.

Inspector Claire Borg exhibited computer equipment, hard disks, USB memory sticks, mobiles and the relevant passwords which had been seized by the police in April this year. The prosecution asked that the court order the extraction and analysis of data.

An argument arose about the validity of the requests and the admissibility of the items. The court observed that it does not normally appoint experts to investigate data at this stage of proceedings.

Cross-examined by lawyer Stefano Filletti, the witness confirmed that Sant Fournier herself had passed the police her passwords in April. The lawyer questioned whether they could they explain why the items were exhibited today, as the police had the equipment with the passwords since April.”

The witness replied that they “might contain something relevant” to the case. Pressed by the defence, she could not confirm if there was anything relevant as she did not know what the devices contained.

Filletti objected vociferously, denouncing the investigation as a fishing expedition, pointing out that once charges were pressed the prosecution had to produce evidence in support of them and not ask the court to investigate equipment, the contents of which they had no idea. He asked that the evidence be expunged, saying that it would inundate the court with irrelevant material.

Magistrate Frendo Dimech observed that the court could not be dragged into a police investigation, more so when the police had easy access to extract the data themselves but said that the court would decree on the matter later.

The case will continue in December.

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