Perjury charges have been filed against former FIAU manager Jonathan Ferris over claims he made during the Egrant inquiry.
Ferris, who is also a former police inspector, had claimed during his inquiry testimony that he identified a $600,000 transaction from an Azeri politically exposed person to Buttardi, a company owned by a close friend of Michelle Muscat.
Forensic analysis carried out as part of the inquiry failed to find any trace of the alleged transaction between Leyla Aliyeva, daughter of Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Alijev, and the New York-based fashion company Buttardi.
Ferris had claimed the payment was masked as a loan.
He was questioned about the claim by police in August 2018 following the conclusion of the inquiry. Inquiring magistrate Aaron Bugeja had requested that the police question Ferris about how he had reached his conclusion that such a transaction took place.
Ferris has also claimed during the inquiry that former EU Commissioner John Dalli suggested to him that Egrant was actually an ‘election grant’ vehicle used by the Labour Party. Dalli has denied such a conversation with Ferris ever took place.
The former FIAU manager in September lost a case in which he demanded a declaration that the government’s decision not to grant him whistleblower status was null and breached his human rights.
Ferris had claimed his sacking from the FIAU was politically motivated and subsequently sought whistleblower protection. The FIAU, in turn, has said Ferris was sacked because his performance fell short of expectations.
His sacking was politically motivated
He has been summoned to appear before Magistrate Joe Mifsud to answer to the charges.
It is not known whether any other charges have been issued as a result of the inquiry.
The inquiry was triggered by former prime minister Joseph Muscat over a report by assassinated journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, which claimed his wife Michelle was the owner of the mystery Panama company Egrant.
No evidence was found linking Muscat to the Panama company, which was acquired by Nexia BT a few months after the March 2013 election along with two other offshore companies whose ownership was later transferred to former OPM chief of staff Keith Schembri and former minister Konrad Mizzi.
In his conclusions, magistrate Bugeja, since promoted to judge, had requested a perjury investigation into former Pilatus Bank employee Maria Efimova as well as a probe into who had falsified documents linking Egrant to Michelle Muscat.
Bugeja had also ordered police to pore over money-laundering red flags identified in various transactions carried out by Pilatus Bank and a probe into a proposed offshore structure to “promote and manage investment” between Malta and China.
The magistrate had also ordered a perjury probe into Nexia BT money-laundering reporting officer Karl Cini.
Nexia BT’s operations have been suspended as part of a separate police probe into whether the company’s managing partner Brian Tonna passed on a €100,000 kickback on passport sales to Schembri.