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Government to ‘look into’ Farrugia pardon after oil scandal acquittal

Prime Minister Joseph Muscat says government will look into George Farrugia presidential pardon in light of Ray Ferris’s acquittal

Martina Borg
17 March 2016, 8:35pm
George Farrugia, who in 2013 got a presidential pardon to turn State's witness on a web of corruption and bribery in Malta's state oil procurement process.
Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said that the government will look into the presidential pardon given to oil trader George Farrugia, following the confirmation on appeal of the acquittal of Enemalta’s former chief projects officer, Ray Ferris, who had been found not guilty of corruption charges.

“The government has taken account of the decision taken by the appeals court, and we will assess the presidential pardon given to Farrugia and look at it closely to determine what to do next,” Muscat told TVM.

Ferris, 54 of Sliema, was last year acquitted of charges after being accused by State’s witness George Farrugia of receiving three gifts of silver from the oil trader.

Farrugia was granted a presidential pardon to reveal everything about a network of bribery for the procurement of oil to state corporation Enemalta, after MaltaToday broke the story that a former official had received a kickback from oil giant Trafigura. Farrugia was at the time a middleman for Trafigura and TOTSA.
Ferris’s testimony had been deemed more believable when measured against the facts, in that it did not appear that Ferris had accepted to participate in any discussion about oil procurement tenders with third parties at any point.

Under conditions of his pardon, Farrugia had told police all he knew about a system of kickbacks for oil procurement to senior Enemalta officials, and gifts to management when dealing with the privatisation process of the corporation’s petroleum division.

Farrugia had identified Ferris as Enemalta’s liaison officer for the privatisation of the corporation’s petroleum division, and accused him of having asked for €40,000 in return for help in the adjudication.

During interrogations, Ferris categorically denied any involvement in corruption, until he was made to confront Farrugia and admitted to having received the silver trays and going to Azzopardi Jewellers with them.

Ferris was made redundant during Enemalta’s restructuring process, leaving with a  €64,000 golden handshake.

Martina Borg focuses on lifestyle and society issues