New FIAU boss tight-lipped on never-ending Operation Green and Pilatus

The new government-nominated Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit Chairman Kenneth Farrugia – who has also been handpicked as the Malta Financial Services Authority’s CEO with a €175,000 salary  – would not reply to questions about a never-ending police investigation, code-named Operation Green, when he appeared before Parliament’s Public Appointments Committee today.

He also denied claims that he was involved in a deal with the US government concerning Pilatus Bank owner Ali Sadr and related money laundering activities.

During a long grilling before the Committee over his new nomination, Farrugia also criticised his predecessor at the FIAU, Manfred Galdes, over the way he tackled the Pilatus Bank debacle.

According to Farrugia, it had been a mistake for Galdes to have ordered a second inspection at Pilatus after it was found in breach of the rules several months earlier.

He said that during the second inspection, it was difficult to compare new findings to earlier evidence as it had not been properly documented.

He insisted that the situation became even more complex with Galdes’ resignation three days after ordering the second inspection.

Insisting that he had full confidence in the FIAU’s deputy director Alfred Zammit who cleared the bank, which was later closed by the European Central Bank, Farrugia said that it was Galdes and not Zammit who had been responsible for the second Pilatus inspection.

Replying only to questioning by  Opposition MPs Karol Aquilina and Adrian Delia, as the government MPs had no questions for Farrugia, the nominee was asked whether he had given evidence in Operation Green – a police ongoing investigation on alleged money laundering activities involving Keith Schembri, disgraced former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s right-hand man and chief of staff.

“I cannot say anything about this operation and am precluded from doing so by law,” Farrugia promptly replied.

The police’s never-ending investigation was triggered by precise intelligence from the FIAU that detailed suspected money laundering activities by Schembri and his associate Brian Tonna.  Tonna,  an accountant who owned Nexia BT, is a Labour government consultant on major multi-million-euro public projects that have since been suspected of corruption.

Farrugia could not explain why, despite the Unit’s reports, which numbered around 100 a year, no politicians have ever been taken to court over money laundering activities.

He said that it was the police and the attorney general are obliged to present charges in court. Defending the police inaction, Farrugia said that this may have been due to a lack of evidence and that such investigations are still a work in progress.

He confirmed that no politician has so far been arraigned in court but expressed his hope that the police are continuing with their investigations and are not holding back.

Farrugia’s nomination was backed by the government MPs, who hold the Committee’s majority, with opposition MPs voting against it. As such, the nomination was approved.

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2 months ago

Kenneth Farrugia defending Alfred Zammit. Translated as “hbieb tal-hbieb jhokku dahar xulxin”. Two incompetents at the helm of the Authorities responsible for the financial services industry.

Albert Beliard
Albert Beliard
2 months ago

The FIAU – and the police who are in collusion with the OPM to this day – were aware of EVERYTHING occurring at Pilatus Bank from day-1, and all the talk by Kenneth Farrugia are just lies, denials, excuses and deflections of their incompetence and corruption in protecting crooks who used the bank for a money laundering hub and to receive kickbacks and illegal commissions.

When the FIAU, police and then-Magistrate Aaron Bugeja could not fit/match Pilatus Bank with the activity of the Azerbaijan Laundromat, there is obviously a grand conspiracy where the FIAU to this day is still a CRIMINAL UNIT that ‘leaks’ intelligence and information with many misspellings and errors to mislead the media and public.

Kenneth Farrugia and his team of crooks are a disgrace to law enforcement and the fight against crime/corruption required to make a third thorough inspection on the CRIMINAL FRAUD surrounding Pilatus Bank and its clients such as the son of Shaukat Ali Abdul Ghafoor who had a bank account at the notorious shuttered bank.

When Prosecutors dropped the case against Ali Sadr two years later in mysterious circumstances, if Farrugia has not yet figured out the reason, after receiving an award of recognition from the US Embassy, he his hiding a ‘secret’ scheme which he will learn soon when the US DOJ contacts him.

Kenneth Farrugia should ‘investigate’ his dignity which is ‘disgusting’ and in the ‘pits’ as the Americans would say when the FIAU and the police are still ‘holding back’ since they are GUILTY.

Joe Borg
Joe Borg
2 months ago
Reply to  Albert Beliard

A time will come when all these crooks will be investigated

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