Iosif Galea’s two European Arrest Warrants raise more questions than answers

The timing of reports that Malta’s Police issued a European Arrest Warrant for Iosif Galea following his arrest in Italy a week earlier is as perplexing as it is symptomatic of the prevailing state of Malta’s law enforcement systems.

On Monday, independent candidate Arnold Cassola requested an investigation by the Ombudsman over police inaction in the arrest of gaming consultant Iosif Galea who, according to Italian media reports was arrested in Italy between the 14 and 15 May following a European Arrest Warrant against him issued by the German Police.

Cassola asked the Ombudsman to investigate why Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà did not arrest Galea earlier on the strength of the German European Arrest Warrant. “They have been in possession of a European Arrest Warrant for Iosef Galea issued by Germany for more than a year. Despite this, they took no action, and no arrest was made,” Cassola told the Ombudsman.

Cassola added that Galea was allowed to travel abroad on multiple occasions and that the Maltese police force did not issue any public statements following his arrest in Brindisi, Italy, on the night of 14-15 May 2022.

Galea’s name, again and again

Iosif Galea, who runs his own consultancy firm was previously a compliance officer at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and his name has come up in several news reports over the years.

Galea worked as an officer at the Lotteries and Gaming Authority (which then became the Malta Gaming Authority) and was allegedly involved in the scandal that ended John Dalli’s career as an EU Commissioner. Linked to the inner circles of the Labour Party, he was referred to as “Dalli’s henchman” by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2015.

Caruana Galizia had already reported at the time that Galea was supposedly under investigation by Italian anti-Mafia authorities for his involvement as a key official for Maltese companies involved in laundering the profits of ‘Ndrangheta mafia activities.

At the time, Galea was the director of a company, Betsolution4u, a company part-owned by GVM Holdings which was revealed to have provided Betuniq, a betting company linked to the ‘Ndrangheta with offices in Malta, with fiduciary services to hide its criminal owners’ identities. However, for unknown reasons, his name was eventually removed from the list of suspects.

In 2021, The Shift reported how according to a whistleblower website Fintelegram.com, a Malta-licensed gaming company had been highlighted as potentially being linked to the illegal proceeds of one of the biggest-ever online financial scams.

Bet90 Sports, a Malta registered and licensed gambling company with links to Galea as well as Brian Tonna’s firm Nexia BT, came under the spotlight after reports detailing its potentially shady past and its links with those involved in corruption, crime and money laundering.

The fraud involved a network of companies, brands, and individuals operating illegal call centres, trading sites and betting sites throughout Europe. It’s reported they scammed at least 200,000 vulnerable and elderly people out of more than €200 million.

Two arrest warrants: one old, one new?

On 27 May, The Times of Malta reported how police sources confirmed that Iosif Galea is the subject of a European Arrest Warrant in connection with an alleged racket that saw sensitive information leaked from the Gaming Authority.

The following day, the same newspaper reported that Galea was arrested in Italy, but for a separate German investigation linked to tax evasion and further elaborated that Galea, who is also wanted to face separate charges in Malta, had been subject to a European Arrest Warrant since early last year. The newspaper reported that he had travelled out of Malta at least two other times before he was finally arrested in Italy earlier this month.

The report adds that when Galea was apprehended by the Italian authorities, he was holidaying with his partner and a group that included disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat, who when contacted for comment by The Times said, “Galea has for the past few months been the boyfriend of a long-time friend who was in the group”.

The long-time friend Muscat is referring to is Maria Grech, a close friend of Michelle Muscat, who when Muscat was prime minister, was appointed as his wife’s private secretary on a full-time basis, and who accompanied Michelle Muscat during most of the activities of the Marigold Foundation.

The police have yet to explain why Galea, who we now know was subject to not one but two European Arrest Warrants, was allegedly allowed to travel at least two other times before he was arrested in Italy. And they have yet to explain why they would tell newspapers that a European Arrest Warrant had been issued only to reveal to the same newspaper the following day that Galea was already the subject of a German European Arrest Warrant.

This bungled series of events will do little to appease the concerns of the three European organisations that have just last week published reports analysing Malta’s lack of progress in implementing rule of law reforms.

Of the many observations made last week at the end of the LIBE Committee visit to Malta, by the chairperson of the Committee, MEP Sophie in’t Veld, was one that stressed how “it is essential that high profile financial and economic crimes, especially corruption and money laundering, be prosecuted rigorously.

“The delegation welcomes the recent referrals to EPPO, however, the overall number of cases remains relatively low in comparison to other Member States and the delegation shares the European Chief Prosecutor’s observations that the Maltese system to detect, investigate and prosecute crimes remains opaque.”

                           
                               
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Joseph Tabone Adami
Joseph Tabone Adami
1 day ago

“This bungled series of events….”

An euphemistic description of what would otherwise seem to be an absolutely putrid – but well planned and executed – ‘mess’.

What will the outcome of the promised Police investigation be – if, that is, such outcome would eventually be revealed to the world?

Last edited 1 day ago by Joseph Tabone Adami
Robert
Robert
9 minutes ago

The customs are not even mentionned….They don’t look at interpool red notice or European warrants?

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