Updated 11.35am, adds Joe Giglio statement

Retired judge Franco Depasquale has been tasked with looking into how a man wanted by the police in Germany for nearly a year was allowed to repeatedly travel out of Malta, the police confirmed.

Depasquale heads the independent police complaints board, which was asked to look into the matter by Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà on the back of a request by Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri.  

Gaming consultant Iosif Galea is wanted by the Malta police to face charges over his suspected involvement in a racket that saw commercially sensitive information leaked from within the Malta Gaming Authority.  

On Sunday, Times of Malta revealed that he had travelled to Italy last month despite having been the subject of a European arrest warrant issued by the German authorities last year. 

He is wanted in Germany to face separate charges of tax evasion and other alleged financial crime. 

Galea travelled to Italy as part of a group that included former prime minister Joseph Muscat and was arrested shortly after arrival. 

Last week, the Maltese police also issued an arrest warrant for Galea but sources said this was only done after he was already under arrest in Italy. 

Concerns have been raised about how he was allowed to travel and why the Maltese police had ostensibly not acted upon the German authorities’ request. 

Sources in the police have suggested that investigators may not have handed Galea over to the German authorities because Malta was still trying to apprehend him as part of its own investigation. Meanwhile, the Nationalist Party said Galea had been on police bail by the Maltese police when he travelled to Italy. 

Addressing a press conference on Tuesday , opposition MP Joe Giglio, an accomplished criminal lawyer, said this meant Galea would have been granted the Maltese police’s permission to travel abroad. 

Sources have since confirmed to Times of Malta that he was granted such leave to travel.

Galea is no stranger to controversy. He had appeared as a witness in the case against former European commissioner John Dalli’s top aide, Silvio Zammit

Galea is understood to be wanted in Malta in connection with an investigation into the leaking of commercially sensitive information from the Malta Gaming Authority. 

Jason Farrugia, formerly the MGA’s chief technology officer, was last month charged with money laundering and fraud among other offences after he allegedly leaked sensitive client information from the regulator.  

His wife, Christine, 26, was also charged. Both were denied bail.  

Galea was previously a compliance officer at the MGA, which was called the Lotteries and Gaming Authority at the time but left in 2013.  

Galea is no stranger to controversy. He had appeared as a witness in the case against former European Commissioner John Dalli’s top aide, Silvio Zammit.

Zammit, who died earlier this year, was facing criminal proceedings since 2012 over his alleged request for a €60 million bribe from snus manufacturer Swedish Match and the European Smokeless Tobacco Council, a lobby group, to help lift a ban on the chewable tobacco. Galea had been questioned over claims he had tipped Zammit off about the investigation.

His name also made headlines last year when a Maltese-licensed gaming company he was involved in was linked in media reports to an international financial scam targeting elderly people across the continent. 

The scam, which allegedly stretched into hundreds of millions of euros, was tied to former owners of the company.

PN wants 'clear time frame'

In a statement on Wednesday, Giglio said the Nationalist Party will insist that the government publishes the terms of reference given to Depasquale as well as a clear timeframe for the conclusion of the investigation.

The government should also bind itself to publish Depasquale’s report in full.

Giglio said that, on behalf of the Nationalist Party, he offered both the judge and the government his cooperation for the matter to be sorted once and for all.

Giglio said the inquiry was a small step towards rebuilding credibility within the police force but it would have been better had the opposition learnt about it from the government, rather than from Times of Malta.

In a reply, the home affairs ministry said minister Byron Camilleri had said in parliament on Monday that the case would be investigated. It said the judge should be allowed to work freely and in serenity. 


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