Former Malta Gaming Authority CEO Accused of Conspiracy

The Times of Malta claims that former MGA CEO Heathcliff Farrugia attempted to obscure the results of a damning investigation into casinos run by Yorgen Fenech, who was recently arrested in relation to the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Former Malta Gaming Authority CEO Accused of Conspiracy

A recent report by the Times of Malta claims that Heathcliff Farrugia, the former CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), conspired with former Tumas Gaming CEO and murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to avoid the results of an investigation. 

In 2018, the MGA and Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) conducted a joint inspection into money-laundering controls at several Tumas Gaming casinos. The investigation uncovered a series of glaring breaches of money laundering laws, including a total inability to identify the casino customers’ source of funds and wealth.

The findings also revealed how the’ money-laundering reporting officer at Tumas Gaming, which was run by Fenech at the time, displayed a labored understanding of the related anti-money laundering laws. Furthermore, the investigation discovered that ongoing transaction monitoring at the casinos was sorely lacking.

The report by the Times of Malta claims that Farrugia and Fenech were in direct private communication following the FIAU’s breach notice. Farrugia, who stepped down as MGA CEO last October, allegedly assured Fenech that the investigation was “nothing personal” and that he was biding for time.

The report also alleges that Farrugia was attempting to get a warning instead of a fine released, “so it wouldn’t be public.” At the time of the investigation, only fines above €10,000 were released to the public, but this threshold has since been increased.

Malta is currently at risk of landing in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF)’s list of untrustworthy countries, also known as the “grey list.”

Fenech Arrested In Connection with Caruana Galizia Murder

During one of their conversations, Farrugia reportedly told Fenech that anti-money laundering regulations in Malta were “too stringent. He also allegedly expressed confidence that he will be able to work with the FIAU.

Furthermore, Farrugia was particularly concerned that the scandal could end up with what he called the “Daphne group.”

Farrugia’s remark is in reference to the Daphne Project, a global investigative journalism project involving journalists and major news organizations. The project aims to carry on the work of Daphne Caruana Galizia, who was murdered on October 16, 2017.

The remark came in response to a comment by Fenech, who said he had received questions regarding the gambling patterns of one of the suspects involved with Caruana Galizia’s murder. Two months after this conversation, Fenech himself was arrested in connection to the murder.

Ferrugia is also facing charges due to his connection to Fenech. The former MGA CEO’s lawyers have refused to comment at this time.

In closing, the Times of Malta says that the results of the Tumas Gaming investigation are still not public. The FIAU has declined to comment on the specific case.

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