No whistleblower protection for anti-money laundering investigator

The shifting of goalposts that has occurred in the handling of the request by a former official at the anti-money laundering agency to be granted whistleblower status was nothing more than an abusive and illegal delay, according a judicial protest filed on Friday.

Jonathan Ferris called upon the Prime Minister, the Justice Minister, the Attorney General and Philip Massa (head of the External Whistleblower Unit at the Office of the Prime Minister) to note the “interminable saga” to grant him whistleblower status despite reassurances given to MEPs that he would be given protection, according to the judicial protest.

Without the requested protection, Ferris could face a five-year jail-term and a €100,000 fine for blowing the whistle on any corruption he may have witnessed during his time at the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

This was the second judicial protest filed by Ferris, in which he said nothing had changed since his first request for whistleblower status in November.

Ferris had been fired from the FIAU after he started to look into reports by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia on allegations that the Panama company Egrant was owned by Prime Minister Joseph Muscat’s wife, according to the judicial protest.

The former FIAU official had his request for legal protection redirected by the Justice Ministry to the external whistleblower unit at the Office of the Prime Minister. He was asked to make an external disclosure in writing before being granted his request.

After complying, Ferris was then told that such an external disclosure had to be preceded by an internal disclosure to the FIAU, the unit from which he had been fired shortly after finalising a report calling for criminal action against Tourism Minister Konrad Mizzi.

In the judicial protest, Ferris said he was being taken for a ride with different entities passing the buck, showing his situation was a far cry from the “rosy speeches recently uttered by the Prime Minister as well as the Justice Minister”. The introduction of the Whistleblower Act was repeatedly raised by government members in response to criticism on the lack of freedom of expression and the rule of law in Malta.

When addressing the European Parliament during the debate on the Rule of Law, Justice Minister Owen Bonnici reassured MEPs there would be “no dragging of feet” for Ferris to be granted whistleblower protection.

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