The Malta Independent 30 March 2023, Thursday
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The weaponisation of justice

Kevin Cassar Sunday, 5 February 2023, 09:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Egrant inquiry recommended that Karl Cini should be criminally investigated for perjury. The same inquiry recommended that FIAU official Jonathan Ferris should be “given the right to explain how he reached his conclusion”.

Instead Jonathan Ferris was charged.  But Karl Cini has never been investigated for perjury as Magistrate Aaron Bugeja recommended.  Cini’s alleged crimes are now time-barred. No action can be taken against him.  More importantly, he won’t testify about Egrant.


So why was Ferris prosecuted while Cini protected?

Yvonne Farrugia, a police officer, testified that she was ordered to investigate Ferris by her boss, the disgraced Assistant Commissioner Ian Abdilla. That’s the same person who was suspended from the police force and is still awaiting disciplinary action, 18 months later, for failing to take action against Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi.  He’s the same man who was meant to interrogate Yorgen Fenech at Portomaso but called it off after receiving a call from another disgraced police officer, Silvio Valletta.

Ferris, a former police inspector who worked for the FIAU, testified before Magistrate Bugeja that Leyla Aliyeva, the Azerbaijani president’s daughter, forwarded 1 million euro to Michelle Buttigieg, a close friend and business partner of Michelle Muscat. His claims were based on an FIAU compliance report on Pilatus bank.

That document allegedly included details of the million euro transaction. That document could prove whether Ferris was saying the truth. But it could also confirm the serious allegations made by Daphne Caruana Galizia about Egrant. It could demolish the conclusions of the Egrant inquiry and Joseph Muscat’s assertions that his wife had nothing to do with Egrant.

That document could shed light on who lied about Egrant.

Police officer Yvonne Farrugia testified that she requested a copy of that FIAU report, presented in a separate inquiry conducted by Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera.  Although she got a copy of that report, and despite its importance, Farrugia didn’t bother to “analyse” it.

Like others before her - Manfred Galdes, Police Commissioners Michael Cassar and John Rizzo, Charles Cronin, Jonathan Ferris - Yvonne Farrugia disappeared from the scene.  She left the police corps to join the European Public Prosecutors Office without making a decision about Ferris.

What is even odder is that although she was investigating Ferris for making claims about Michelle Buttigieg, Farrugia never bothered to question Buttigieg. Neither did she bother to question or investigate her business partner Michelle Muscat, for whom the 1 million euro were allegedly intended. Buttigieg was allegedly only meant as a front to conceal the identity of the intended recipient - Michelle Muscat.

Investigating officer Farrugia didn’t even bother to look into the purchase of an 800,000 dollar Manhattan property by Michelle Buttigieg soon after the 1 million euro were allegedly transferred.

When Farrugia was challenged in court why she hadn’t looked into Michelle Buttigieg’s finances and specifically into her 800,000 dollar property purchase, she replied pathetically “Ferris never mentioned it”.

Farrugia was tasked by Ian Abdilla to investigate Ferris for possible perjury over allegations of a million euro transaction involving Michelle Buttigieg. That allegation was based on the FIAU Pilatus compliance report.  But the police never ‘analysed’ the report, they didn’t speak to Michelle Buttigieg or Michelle Muscat, they didn’t look into Buttigieg’s financial transactions and weren’t even aware of Buttigieg’s 800,000 dollar property deal.

Yet Ferris was charged in court.

Ferris had long been hounded.  He was sacked soon after the June 2017 election, called early by Joseph Muscat after allegations about Egrant surfaced. Ferris claimed that he left the police force and joined the FIAU after he refused to divulge information requested by a minister about a case under investigation in 2016. His boss, then Superintendent Ian Abdilla, suggested to him to just give the minister the information to avoid creating an “incident”. Ferris refused.  He felt he couldn’t remain with the police and moved to the FIAU.

At the FIAU, Ferris was investigating money laundering by politically exposed persons. But before completing his investigations, Ferris together with another FIAU official, Charles Cronin, was dismissed.

Ferris was subsequently awarded 20,000 euro in damages over discriminatory treatment suffered at the hands of disgraced former police commissioner Lawrence Cutajar. The court found that while over 200 people had been reinstated to the police, including some with a tainted criminal conduct, Ferris was denied reinstatement. The court found that Ferris’ rights had been breached.

Ferris’ harassment by the state continues.  His perjury case drags on in court.  But rather than damaging Ferris, that case reveals in ever more revolting detail how the state is weaponising prosecutions to silence key witnesses and conceal financial crime including money laundering.

Investigating police officer Yvonne Farrugia was asked directly in court, why was Ferris charged but not Karl Cini?  She replied, “I wish to answer that question, but I am bound by loyalty”.  Loyalty to whom?

Another Magistrate has since heard how Karl Cini started falsifying documents as soon as magisterial inquiries relating to Pilatus kicked off. Cini was involved in setting up secret Panama companies for Keith Schembri and Konrad Mizzi and also in setting up the enigmatic Egrant. Karl Cini knows exactly who Egrant belonged to.

Despite the revelations about Karl Cini and Nexia BT, the Labour government still handed over millions of euro in direct orders, tenders or contracts to Nexia BT. Nexia BT sat on the Electrogas selection board and on the Vitals adjudication committee. The disgraced Joseph Cuschieri chose Nexia BT to provide consultancy services to his MGA. Joseph Muscat picked Nexia BT as his consultants.

In September 2020, Cini’s accountancy warrant was suspended.  Days ago Cini was finally struck off the MFSA register. He’s facing money laundering charges and his assets are frozen.  But the Egrant inquiry recommendations to investigate him for perjury were conveniently ignored. That was a golden opportunity to find out the truth about Egrant from the very man who set it up. The state chose to miss that opportunity. Instead it keeps harassing Jonathan Ferris.


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