Repubblika wants answers on false testimony, missing documents

Two MFSA Banking Supervision Unit officials accused of implication in cover-up had already left the authority, pointing to the possibility of a higher level cover-up


Civil society action group Repubblika wants answers from the Malta Financial Services Authority after one of its officials gave false testimony about documents that were missing from Magistrate Ian Farrugia’s inquiry into Pilatus Bank.

Two former MFSA Banking Supervision Unit officials had been named and implicated in concealing documents in court transcripts later made public by Repubblika.

But new information reaching the group shows that the officials named in the court transcripts had already left the MFSA and, as such, could not have had anything to do with concealing the documents from the inquiring magistrate.

Repubblika now wants to know where culpability for the debacle lies if it had not been the former officials – Karol Gabarretta and Ray Vella – who had been responsible.

Repubblika President Robert Aquilina said yesterday, “It is only natural and legitimate to ask who were the people in the MFSA who obstructed the course of justice?”

On 29 July 2020, an MFSA official testified in private before Magistrate Farrugia and handed over documents the magistrate had ordered but which had been missing from the inquiry.

The unnamed official said the documents had been locked away in a safe within the MFSA building and that they were being presented to the inquiry for the first time.

“They were in a safe for one reason or another, I don’t know why they were not exhibited before, but they are being exhibited now,” he told the magistrate, according to transcripts published by Aquilina at the end of December after a televised interview.

Asked at the time by the magistrate if the documents had been stored in any particular safe, the witness testified they had been kept in a safe within the office of the Head of the Banking Supervision Unit because of the “case’s confidentiality”.

The documents in question dealt with the bank’s capitalisation and liquidity levels.

From the transcript of the MFSA official’s testimony, it appeared that the evidence was being concealed and had only reached the investigating magistrate after the two officers responsible for their safekeeping had left the MFSA.

The witness had identified the then-heads of the banking unit – Karol Gabarretta and his deputy Ray Vella – as the only people with access to the safe. As such, responsibility for the missing documents not finding their way to the inquiry had been laid at their doorstep.

But new information reaching Aquilina this week has absolved the two officials named to Magistrate Farrugia, opening the door to the possibility of a cover-up being orchestrated at a higher level.

Aquilina has now confirmed that both Gabarretta and Vella couldn’t have been responsible.

Gabarretta, Aquilina explained, submitted his resignation from the MFSA on 18 January 2018. As of the next day, he was no longer the safe’s keyholder, and he left the MFSA in finality.

Aquilina said, “This all took place before the inquiry began so Karol Gabarretta had neither access nor control of the safe when Magistrate Farrugia ordered that the MFSA present the documents it had about Bank Pilatus.”

As for Ray Vella, he resigned from the MFSA on 1 April 2019, four months after the inquiry began. Aquilina explained that in that time frame Vella and another officer at the Banking Supervision Unit still had access to the safe.

But, he added, “It turns out that Ray Vella in those four months did not receive any request or order to present the documents, not directly from Magistrate Farrugia nor his superiors at the MFSA.”

According to Aquilina, it is evident that there was an attempt by the MFSA for several months to ensure the requested documentation did not reach the magistrate.

He stressed that “The MFSA has an obligation to give an explanation about all this to the public. Someone at the MFSA was complicit in this abuse, and they are still being sheltered by the MFSA.”


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9 days ago

So there was plenty time for these documents to be edited surely?

9 days ago

The politically appointed CEO at MFSA at the time was disgraced Joe Cuschieri. His friend Edwina Licari was part of the MFSA executive committee with Christopher Buttigieg and Michelle Mizzi Buontempo. What is their answer to this shocking news? Are they fit and proper for such role? Why don’t they declare their conflicts of interest in public?

Albert Micallef
Albert Micallef
9 days ago
Reply to  Romeo

There was also a certain Marianne who was ‘shipped’ out of the country in haste. She was the Person responsible for Supervision at that time.

Last edited 9 days ago by Albert Micallef

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