Curia had no criminal suspicions over Fr Luke Seguna, court hears

A Curia representative told the court that there were no suspected irregularities in the Marsaxlokk parish spending, much less criminal irregularities and that it had not been the Curia which reported him to the police.

A Curia representative has told a court that the Church had no suspicion of any wrongdoing involving former Marsaxlokk priest Fr. Luke Seguna, who stands charged with financial crimes.

The administrative secretary of the Malta Archdiocese, Michael Pace Ross,was the only witness to testify today as Magistrate Natasha Galea Sciberras continued to hear evidence in the criminal proceedings against Fr Seguna. The priest had been arraigned on charges of fraud and money laundering earlier this month.

Pace Ross testified that period reports from Marsaxlokk had shown a decline in revenue and donations.  However he stated that this decline was consonant with the decline experienced by other parishes in the same period and that there was nothing out of the ordinary.

He also stated that the Curia has an internal audit section whose job it is to ensure the correct book-keeping by all parishes.  Emails would periodically be sent to parishes asking for clarifications, corrections or missing documents, such as invoices or receipts.

Marsaxlokk was no exception, he said. 

Curiously however, the senior lay Curia official also testified to the effect that no particular issue with Marsaxlokk had been brought to his attention, explaining that it would therefore be safe to state that even if there were some errors in the Marsaxlokk parish’s reports, they were not serious enough to warrant the matter being brought to his attention.

He went on to add that workshops had been held on book-keeping, record-keeping and reports, as well as on the financial procedures to follow.  He confirmed that there were some requests from Marsaxlokk for certain projects, saying that at no point was anything abnormal flagged.

Replying to questions by lawyer Stefano Filletti, parte civile for the Archdiocese, Pace Ross said that the Curia had not suspected any irregularities in Marsaxlokk, much less criminal irregularities.  He confirmed that the Curia had never filed any reports, be they internal to the Ecclesiastical bodies or to the civil authorities, including with the police.

Filletti asked how, therefore, the Curia had become aware of the allegations against Fr. Seguna. The witness replied that on the eve of the arraignment, the Church was advised that Fr Seguna had been arrested and was to be charged with financial crimes the next day.

The Church only got to know the details of the allegations from the media, said the witness.   It was then that the Church had started an internal investigation into the matter, adding that this is still ongoing.

The case continues in December.

AG lawyers Andrea Zammit and Ramon Bonett Sladden prosecuted. Lawyers Matthew Xuereb and Alex Scerri Herrera are defence counsel. Lawyer Stefano Filletti represented the Archdiocese.