Malta’s former gaming authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia has been charged over alleged trading in influence with Yorgen Fenech, the main suspect in the assassination of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.
The Times of Malta has confirmed that Farrugia was charged in January 2021.
Farrugia resigned from his position as MGA CEO in October, claiming that he was moving to private business. Over the same period, he was interrogated by police over his relationship with Yorgen Fenech, focusing on several WhatsApp exchanges between the pair. Sources said that Farrugia was also questioned on a wider number of issues regarding the sector and other industries
According to the report, Fenech and Farrugia communicated on sensitive details on casino operations and a money-laundering investigation into Fenech’s Portomaso casino.
Malta’s gaming sector is facing major challenges with a crucial Moneyval test looming large. Sources have suggested that the issues raised above were behind the sudden resignation, however, Farrugia has resoundingly rejected such assertions.
Farrugia’s WhatsApp communications follow the latest in a long line of exchanges between Fenech and Malta’s top officials. The contents of the WhatsApp messages were lifted off Fenech’s phone by Europol, who was handed the device immediately after Fenech’s arrest in November 2019. They will be exhibited in court when experts are called to testify.
Fenech shared over 700 messages with Malta’s Justice Minister Edward Zammit Lewis between January 2019 and October 2019. There are also roughly 800 messages between Fenech and former Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s right-hand man, Keith Schembri, who remains under investigation for his potential role in the crime.
It has also been confirmed by inspectors that Muscat, Schembri, and Fenech had a shared WhatsApp group between themselves. Meanwhile, former PN Leader Adrian Delia has also been confirmed to have exchanged messages with the businessman.