An internal investigation has found that two police officers failed in their duties when they did not arrest gaming consultant Iosif Galea despite Galea being subject to a European Arrest Warrant issued by German police last year.

An internal inquiry, chaired by Judge Emeritus Franco Depasquale, with Judge Emeritus Geoffrey Valenzia and Captain Reuben Lanfranco as members, found administrative shortcomings by two officers.

The probe looked into why Galea was not arrested in Malta earlier this year and allowed to leave the country multiple times.

The officers were not named and it is not known if they are still members of the force.

Galea, who runs his own consultancy firm, was previously a compliance officer at the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), which was called the Lotteries and Gaming Authority.

Maltese investigators believe he has since received sensitive insider information from within the regulator and may have passed this on to interested parties.

He is subject to a second European Arrest Warrant issued by the Maltese police earlier this year and is expected to face money laundering and tax evasion charges in Malta. 

The police said in its statement that according to the conclusions of the Independent Police Complaints Board, there was no direction by the top officials in the police force to help Galea, contrary to what could have been alleged.

The board also concluded that none of the police top officials had any clue that a European Arrest Warrant had already been issued against Galea by the German police in May 2021, until he was arrested in Brindisi. 

The police said it had started to evaluate the report in its entirety and promised to address the deficiencies immediately. It reiterated its commitment to strengthen the structures related to international arrest processes.

Gafà had investigated Galea in 2013 

The police released the last three pages of the 19-page report which dealt with the board’s examination of whether Police Commissioner Angelo Gafà, Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Mamo and other senior police officials had been involved in the administrative deficiencies committed by the two officers.

In the published extract of the report, Gafà explained to the board how the allegation that he had tried to help Galea was untrue.

He told the board how in February, while he was preparing to testify in a court case against former European Commissioner John Dalli, he came across a note he had written in the file of a case he had investigated in 2013.

He said the police had received a report from the Malta Gaming Authority and the police had seized a laptop in which a ‘Wireshark’ was found and could have been used to access the authority’s sensitive information.   

Gafà said that according to him, this amounted to computer misuse and carried a hefty punishment on conviction, and that the case became time-barred after 10 years.

On February 7, Gafà sent an email to the inspector who was prosecuting in the case against Dalli in which he informed him about the note and how the investigation had never been carried out. He also suggested a financial investigation or a possible referral to the Financial Analysis Intelligence Unit.

Gafà told the board that this charge related to computer misuse had been inserted in a European Arrest Warrant issued by the Maltese police on May 25 this year. This was after Galea had been extradited to Germany from Italy where he had been arrested.

The board said it had not been given any justification for why the 2013 case had not been investigated and was left pending for almost 10 years.

It said that although none of the police top brass knew of the arrest warrant issued against Galea by the German police, there are serious deficiencies in the way such information is monitored.

Although Gafà received reports at regular intervals from the various police branches, the board suggested a new procedure that monitors every case from start to finish, including when the case is filed in court.  

Galea had EAW issued in May 2021... but no one knew

While Galea had been subject to the European Arrest Warrant issued by German police since early last year, police sources told Times of Malta he travelled out of Malta at least twice more before he was finally arrested in Italy in May.

The gaming consultant, who is now wanted in Malta over an alleged racket involving leaked information from the Maltese gaming regulator, was arrested under the German investigation linked to money laundering and tax evasion.

Galea is now also wanted over a separate tax evasion case in Malta.

Arrested while holidaying in a group which included Joseph Muscat

He was arrested and taken in handcuffs by the Italian Guardia di Finanza while on holiday in Italy with a group that included former prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Muscat had said he was not aware of the arrest warrant and he has never had any personal or professional relationship with Galea. They were only in the same group together because Galea was the boyfriend of a long-time friend.

Home Affairs Minister Byron Camilleri had promised parliament that if any wrongdoing resulted from the investigation, “all the necessary steps will be taken”. He had been taken to task by several Opposition MPs who questioned why the police did not visit Galea’s home, despite the fact he lives close to a police station.

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, had been 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.

At the time, Dalli was health commissioner and the scandal had led to his resignation.

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