The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has confirmed that its former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Jason Farrugia and his wife Christine Farrugia have been charged with a range of financial crimes.
These include money laundering, accepting bribes, fraud and trading in influence by abusing his leadership position as CTO of the MGA, according to The Times of Malta.
Additional charges include fraud in excess of €5,000, misappropriation, disclosing confidential information and computer misuse – Farrugia and his wife pleaded not guilty to all charges, but have been denied bail.
An MGA statement read: “The MGA would like to clarify that the employment relationship with Mr Farrugia was terminated in December 2021 following an internal investigation initiated by the MGA into alleged wrongdoings by the same individual.
“The results of these investigations were passed on to the relevant Authorities and the MGA has been, and remains, at their disposal and providing all required assistance. In the meantime, the MGA continues to take all the necessary steps to ensure the integrity of its data.”
Farrugia worked for the MGA until December 2020, amid suspicions of data misuse which led to his suspension by the regulator, which referred his case to the police. Law enforcement subsequently began a six month investigation into the official.
He is the second former senior MGA executive to be investigated for financial misconduct and associated charges after ex-CEO Heathcliff Farrugia – who resigned in November 2020,
The Times of Malta revealed in March that the former CEO had been charged in January with trading in influence with Yorgen Fenech, a business with gaming industry interests suspected of bridging Maltese politicians.
A European gambling hub, Malta provides operating centres to global gaming groups such as Betsson AB, Kindred Group and Tipico Sportwetten, and the industry accounts for 12% of its GDP at €700m whilst employing 9,000 people.
The news come as some doubts remain as to Malta’s financial security, as the country remains on the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) – the EU and G7’s AML and anti-terrorist fundraisng organisation – greylist of financially untrustworthy jurisdictions.
Malta was sanctioned on the FATF greylist following EU member complaints that Malta’s financial authorities had limited oversight on money laundering activities and the creation of offshore companies within its jurisdiction.
The government is currently awaiting an FATF decision on whether it will remain on the greylist, having implemented FATF and MoneyVal action plans improving the monitoring of cash transactions, registering business domicles and bolstering financial intelligence.