Two years after a Standards Commission report raised concerns over connections between Malta’s High Commissioner to Ghana, Jean Claude Galea Mallia, and his fugitive business partner Aaron Galea, the diplomat remains in place.
Aaron Galea, a close associate of the high commissioner, is wanted by Maltese police on suspicion of involvement in a €1 million fraud case and remains on the run.
Nationalist Party MP Albert Buttigieg questioned Foreign Minister Ian Borg on the case in parliament, particularly whether any action had been taken. The minister conceded it had not.
Borg said his ministry had been assured by Galea Mallia that all ties with the fugitive had been severed, and as such, the “issue” is “settled”.
“My ministry was given assurances in writing that the ambassador has no relationship with Galea Investors any longer,” Ian Borg told the PN MP.
“In this case, once clarifications have been obtained, the ministry does not need to follow up the issue with other entities,” he said.
In 2017, when Galea Mallia was honorary consul to Ghana, he introduced his business partner, Aaron Galea, to Trade Malta CEO Anton Buttigieg, who was preparing to visit the country with an official delegation.
Following the introduction, Buttigieg found out that the consul’s business partner was a fugitive who left Malta in 2010 and settled in Ghana after allegedly defrauding customers of some €1 million through a false investment scheme.
In 2009, Galea Mallia first moved to Ghana and took a position in one of Galea’s companies. The two reportedly maintained close ties over the following years.
Then-foreign minister Carmelo Abela took no action despite being warned by Buttigieg that Galea was a “shady character”.
Then, in 2018, Abela nominated Galea Mallia for a ‘promotion’ from Honorary Consul to High Commissioner, a position he retains today.
Abela did not mention his nominee’s proximity to the fugitive when Galea Mallia faced a parliamentary committee as part of the appointment process.
Summoned during the Standards Commissioner’s investigation on Galea Mallia, Abela denied any knowledge of the relationship between his nominee and the fugitive at the time.
However, when faced with written evidence that he knew and engaged in an e-mail exchange, the former minister, ousted in 2020, said “he had forgotten”.
The Standards Commissioner had said Abela’s response was not very credible.
It is unclear why the diplomat was not recalled and replaced two years after the report’s publication.
Galea, still wanted by the police, moved to Ghana several years ago, but there has been no known attempt to extradite him.
Officially, Galea is registered as residing in an address in Iklin and is still the shareholder of various commercial entities, including Galea Investments Ltd, where the High Commissioner was a director.
The alleged fraudster is also a shareholder in Fish Source Associates Ltd and a director in Agrifoods Ltd with his wife, Brenda Galea.