The Malta Independent 21 May 2019, Tuesday

Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers ‘closely following’ latest fisheries scandal turn

Wednesday, 27 February 2019, 10:37 Last update: about 4 months ago

The Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers is ‘closely following’ the latest turn in the fisheries scandal, where Spanish news organisation El Confidencial has implicated Maltese Fisheries firm MFF Ltd in potential fish smuggling, this newsroom is informed.

Recently and in a separate incident, Andreina Fenech Farrugia was suspended indefinitely from her post of Director General of the Fisheries Department after Spain's El Confidencial published transcripts that allegedly show how she asked Spanish tuna kingpin Jose Fuentes, also the owner of the local Mare Blu tuna farm, for payments. She denied the allegations.


Now however, El Confidencial has also pointed to a Maltese fisheries operator in what seems to be a separate situation to that of Fenech Farrugia. The news report reads that one of the tuna suppliers of “illegally caught and fattened tuna” in Malta is Giovanni Ellul, CEO of Malta Fish Farming (MFF Ltd.).

The news report highlights that tuna was delivered to Spain on trucks travelling through Marseille from Italy. The report also highlights that smugglers used speedboats and catamarans to transport goods from Malta to Italy. The report also highlights that Madrid Airport was used as the point of entry to introduce the highest quality bluefin tuna, with falsified electronic bluefin tuna catch documents.

Ellul categorically denied the allegation to El Confidencial, saying that his company has never been involved in the smuggling of illegal fish from Malta to Spain.

This newsroom sent a number of questions to the CEO of the Maltese Federation of Aquaculture Producers, Charlon Gouder, asking, among other questions, for his reaction to this latest news; whether he still says that none of the federation’s members were called in by the Spanish police; whether he held any discussions with the Spanish authorities or Maltese authorities on this latest situation; and whether Giovanni Ellul or another representative of MFF accompanied him to Spain recently.

In response, Gouder said: “I may confirm that the Federation through its appointed lawyer in Spain is closely following the issue, however there has been no further updates to my latest replies to this newspaper published on Saturday 16th February.”

On 16 February, Gouder had told this newsroom that he was in Spain for legal talks in relation to the fishing scandal. At that point only the Farrugia Fenech angle was public. He had, on the 16th, said that he was in Spain to discuss with his lawyers the ongoing court proceedings in relation to the Operation Tarantella (the Spanish operation regarding the tuna smuggling investigation). On that day, Gouder had said: “we are not privy to the investigations carried out in relation to the operation Tarantella operation. However I can confirm that none of my members were ever called by the Spanish police, Europol and/or Maltese police in relation to this investigation or any other investigation."

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