Andreina Fenech Farrugia: Photo: Icam Studios
The director of Malta’s fisheries department has been suspended in the wake of a report in the Spanish press that she had requested money from a bluefin tuna operator.
El Confidencial published telephone transcripts between Andreina Fenech Farrugia and Jose Fuentes Garcia, in which Fenech Farrugia appeared to solicit a bribe.
“I am in Bulgaria just for you. You have to pay me, because I have a meeting with the [director] general of Brussels to fix things,” she was quoted as saying.
A fragment of the intercepted phonecall published in El Confidencial
The conversation was held on 20th June 2018, when EU fisheries heads had convened in Bulgaria. It was intercepted by Spanish investigative authorities, as part of a vast investigation into how the Maltese authorities allegedly helped Fuentes Garcia regularise vast amounts of illegally caught tuna. The undeclared tuna was caught from Fuentes Garcia’s Maltese fish farm and imported to Spanish tapas and fish markets.
According to The Times of Malta, authorities suspect that the illegal trade reached up to €25 million.
“Activists, senior EU officials and businessmen have long described Malta as a great place to illegally launder tuna, and thanks to these police and judicial investigations, these rumours are now black on white,” El Confidencial wrote.