Radio silence from ministry over fisheries co-op, Fenech Farrugia debacles

The Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Rights as well as the Fisheries Department appear to have chosen a policy of radio silence when it comes to the thornier issues it is facing.

The Shift has been repeatedly asking Anton Refalo’s ministry about the state of the inquiry into the fisheries cooperative for the last 10 days, without even an acknowledgment.

The ministry and the fisheries department were both asked about plans The Shift is informed are in hand for the imminent dissolution of the Għaqda Koperattiva tas-Sajd Ltd, which is currently operating under something of a shadow.

But despite numerous reminders, not even an acknowledgment has been forthcoming.

The government’s Cooperatives Board last month concluded an eight-month investigation into the fishing co-op, the results of which recommend the replacement of its executive committee.

In January, the Cooperatives Board appointed an inquiry tasked with looking into GħKS’ finances and ensuring that the cooperative “conforms to all its legal obligations”.

In April, The Shift reported how Għaqda Koperattiva tas-Sajd Ltd (GħKS), led by individuals who have been arraigned for smuggling fuel and ammunition, was under investigation because of its failure to have submitted its audited accounts for the last seven years.

The inquiry was concluded last month, in August, with the Cooperatives Board confirming that it has “written to all the cooperative’s members to set up a meeting with them and establish whether there is any interest in the cooperative continuing to operate, preferably with a new executive committee”.

Neither the ministry nor the fisheries department, however, have been able to reply to The Shift’s questions on the current state of play.

One can understand the minister himself might be a little reticent about engaging with The Shift, as it was this particular news outlet that had exposed him last February as being in breach of heritage laws by having a protected Victorian-era stone marker at his private residence.

If found guilty, after all, the minister would face a fine of between €2,000 and €250,000, or imprisonment of a term not exceeding six years.

Questions from The Shift on that issue, too, have been left completely by the wayside by the ministry.

This news outlet also has several questions pending at the ministry about the status of an inquiry into former fisheries department director-general Andreina Fenech Farrugia, who had been caught red-handed back in February 2019 requesting bribes from an alleged tuna laundering ring worth up to €25 million.

Fenech Farrugia was immediately suspended from her job and became the protagonist of a magisterial inquiry into the allegations.

Spanish newspaper El Confidencial had published evidence of damning conversations between Fenech Farrugia and Jose Fuentes Garcia, a Spanish tuna kingpin, intercepted by the Spanish Central Operation Environmental Unit (UCOMA) with the help of Europol. The alleged international tuna ‘laundering’ ring was worth up to €25 million.

But despite the severity of the case, its international dimension, and the repeated questions about the state of the investigation and Fenech Farrugia’s current employment status, both the ministry and parliamentary secretariat have chosen to remain completely silent.


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6 days ago

I may be wrong but as I recall she’s been on full pay all this time as well, she needs her time in court as they all do, but the cells are being reserved by others in her situation and she may have to settle for one below the waterline so to speak.

6 days ago

Labour government gives full time official jobs to crooks? Can the Minister deny?

Paul Bonello
Paul Bonello
6 days ago

How can one possibly avoid the conclusion that Mrs Andreina was acting in concert with the political powers who, as usual, protect her and dictate to Gafa what to investigate and what should be allowed to go under the radar?

saviour mamo
saviour mamo
6 days ago

The only thing that it is keeping Labour in power is corruption. Remove corruption and Labour will disintegrate,

Francis Said
Francis Said
5 days ago

No news does necessarily mean good news. Here in Malta it means sweeping the dirt under one heck of a carpet, filled with dust that hopefully will be buried at some appropriate time.
This is called PL democracy with a strong dose of corruption.

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