Finance Minister Clyde Caruana said on Tuesday he was “aware” of a police investigation into the conduct of former Malta Gaming Authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia. 

Times of Malta revealed on Sunday how Farrugia conspired with murder suspect Yorgen Fenech to hide the findings of anti-money laundering breaches at the two casinos he ran. 

Farrugia is facing criminal charges over his conduct.

Questioned if he would be ordering a review into all of Farrugia’s work, the Finance Minister simply said he would be allowing the police to get on with their job. 

A joint inspection by the MGA and FIAU had found a raft of breaches at the Tumas Gaming casinos, including a “complete failure” to establish where the money being dropped at the casinos by its clients came from and a money-laundering reporting officer who struggled to show knowledge of anti-money laundering laws. 

In chats between Farrugia and Fenech, the MGA CEO said the Tumas Gaming casinos were chosen for an inspection prior to Moneyval because they were the best regulated. 

“The others are terrible [gravi]”, Farrugia told Fenech. 

The findings of the breaches at the Tumas casinos were never made public.

At the time of the inspection, breaches resulting in a fine of over €10,000 were subject to publication by the FIAU. 

Farrugia, who stepped down from his role at the MGA last October, told Fenech in his chat that anti-money laundering regulations are “too stringent”.

The MGA CEO said he was sure they would be able to make headway with the FIAU and avoid publication of the fine, by instead issuing a warning. 

“We do not want this to go public as it will escalate needlessly and end up with the Daphne group,” Farrugia said. (“Mal-FIAU naslu… ma nixtiequhiex tmur publika din għax tikber bla bżonn u tispiċċa għand tad-Daphne group.)
The FIAU had denied bowing to any pressure. 

Tumas Gaming has said it had replied to all the points raised by the inspection, following which it was informed the authority would not be pursuing the matter. 

The company was immediately subjected to a second compliance review by the FIAU, the outcome of which is still pending.

Tumas Gaming's COO Patrick Demanuele was recently questioned by the police over his chats with Fenech. He it out on police bail and has been suspended from his work.

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