‘Suspicious’ that Malta’s FIAU not given resources when investigating PEPs – former director
21 Jan 2020

If the police did nothing on reports compiled and sent by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit, what was the point of having these reports, former FIAU director Manfred Galdes said.

He said it was suspicious that the FIAU lacked resources – and were not given any – at the time it was investigating politically-exposed persons, PEPs.

Testifying in the public inquiry into the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, Galdes said that one can have the best FIAU in the world, but that when there were just three – allbeit well intentioned – police inspectors to work money laundering cases, the system will never be effective.

This was the main reason why he resigned in 2016, he said. He did not feel like he could work in a situation where the FIAU was “ineffective”.

Getting to the reasons for his resignation, Galdes said that it had become “difficult for the FIAU to exercise its rights in terms of the law and its international obligations.” He said the FIAU needed additional people, and that he had told the Finance Minister that there was the need for more resources.

During his testimony, Galdes also identified reports that had been leaked to the media – they involved former chief of staff Keith Schembri, Nexia BT director Brian Tonna, former Allied Newspapers managing director Adrian Hillman and Pilatus Bank.

The inquiry was set up late last year to determine, among other things, whether any wrongful action or omission by, or within, any State entity facilitated the assassination or failed to prevent it.

Judge Michael Mallia is leading the inquiry, with the other two members of the board being chief Justice Joseph Said Pullicino and Madam Justice Abigail Lofaro.

The Caruana Galizia family is being assisted by Jason Azzopardi and Therese Comodini Cachia.

Follow the minute by minute testimony as it happened below

4.03pm: Galdes does not elaborate further, and the sitting is now continuing behind closed doors.

3.59pm: Azzopardi asks whether he felt that the lack of resources to the FIAU was done on purpose, Galdes replies that he can only give his opinion in that he did see it as suspicious. Judge Said Pullicino asks whether he felt that there had been any influence on the FIAU.  He states that there was one instance where a parliamentary secretary’s office had sent an email stating that a person they knew was going for an interview. That person, he said, didn’t even make it past the second interview. In terms of indirect influence though, he said that there were a couple of incidents in the months before he resigned which he did not like.

3.57pm: Galdes clarifies that he did not receive follow-up reports from police officers on the information he submitted. “But I would have been surprised if they provided feedback within three months,” Galdes says. Azzopardi asks whether he knew of any investigations taking place. “No, but there were some meetings between Ian Abdilla, Ray Aquilina, and Antonovich headed it,” Galdes replies. Azzopardi requests the minutes of these meetings.

Read more at The Malta Independent

Photo (cropped and edited): Ethan Doyle White [CC BY-SA 4.0]

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