Whatsapp exchanges evidencing collusion between Former Malta Gaming Authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia and Daphne Caruana Galizia murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to try to block the publication of a report exposing anti-money laundering measures at Tumas Gaming Casinos.
A report by the Times of Malta has revealed that an FIAU inspection uncovered that two casinos under the Tumas Gaming umbrella were completely failing to establish their client’s source of funds and personal wealth. The inspection came at a time when Malta was undergoing a crucial second Moneyval evaluation, which could result in greylisting.
The inspection began in 2018 as was reportedly the investigation which confirmed that Fenech was the owner of 17 Black.
According to the chats, which began in September 2019, just two months before his arrest, Farrugia told Fenech, who was the Tumas Gaming CEO, that he was working on ensuring the report was not public.
He even said the MGA would issue a warning and not a fine so that it would not be alerted to the public.
“We do not want this to go public as it will escalate needlessly and end up with the Daphne group,” Farrugia said, promising to ensure he could make progress with FIAU itself.
Most worrying is that it seems these issues were widespread, with Farrugia at one point assuring Fenech:
“Not personal Yur. They wanted the best casino to include for an investigating before Moneyval… and your casino was chosen cause it is the best regulated. The others are terrible [gravi]”.
The chats even make reference to Tumas Gaming COO Patrick Demanuele, who Lovin Malta has revealed is currently out of police bail over investigations linked to this case. Demanuele has since been suspended from the role.
Farrugia allegedly offered to help Demanuele author the replies to the FIAU.
Farrugia’s lawyer, Ezekiel Psaila, refused to comment, explaining that the issue is currently sub-judice.
A spokesperson at the FIAU did not comment on the specifics of the case. However, they backed the “highest standards of due process, accountability and transparency” within the FIAU.
The contents of Fenech’s WhatsApp messages are part of a wide-ranging investigation linked to trading-in-influence and money-laundering on the island, They were lifted off Fenech’s phone by Europol, who was handed the device immediately after his arrest in November 2019. They have been submitted to the court.
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.
Former PN leader Adrian Delia and his right-hand-man Pierre Portelli have also been caught in the crossfire, with Lovin Malta revealing worrying conversations between Fenech and Portelli.
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