Ex gaming authority official lied to his bosses when confronted over leak, witness tells court

The compilation of evidence against former gaming watchdog official Jason Farrugia continues as court hears how he lied to his bosses when confronted over a leaked invoice

Ex Gaming Authority chief technology officer Jason Farrugia
Ex Gaming Authority chief technology officer Jason Farrugia

A former Gaming Authority technology officer now facing money laundering charges had no work-related reason to access the agency’s procurement database, a court has been told.

The testimony was given by a senior MGA official in the compilation of evidence against former chief technology officer Jason Farrugia and his wife Christine Farrugia.

The couple are facing money laundering charges. Jason Farrugia alone is charged with extortion, trading in influence, fraud, misappropriation, disclosing confidential information and computer misuse.

The compilation of evidence continued on Monday morning before Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

Jason Farrugia is accused of having discussed the authority's internal affairs and made joint business plans with gaming consultant and former MGA employee Iosif Galea on WhatsApp. The court has heard evidence that Farrugia received thousands of euros from Galea.

Galea was also recently arrested in Italy, on the strength of a European Arrest Warrant issued by Germany, whilst on holiday with former prime minister Joseph Muscat and his family.

One of several witnesses who testified today was Peter Spiteri, chief of finance and business transformation at the MGA.

Spiteri told the court that he had asked the authority’s head of finance to investigate the leak of an invoice to news portal The Shift on 1 December 2021, after the portal published an article featuring the invoice.

“I spoke to Jason to follow up and to say that we were investigating the leak and he told me that there wasn’t much to check as it was a MITA issue,” recalled the witness.

Eight days later, Matthew Busuttil, an infrastructure and security officer at the MGA and Finance Manager Adrian Muscat reported their findings to Spiteri.

“On 9 December, Matthew Busuttil and Adrian Muscat informed me that through investigations they had established that Farrugia had accessed the procurement systems and downloaded some files from there. I immediately informed the CEO,” Spiteri told the court.

Soon after he gave this instruction, Farrugia had contacted Spiteri, claiming that he had only moved the files from A to B. Farrugia was “visibly flustered”, recalled the witness.

“Farrugia had no reason to be looking at those documents, but had access as a super user to carry out maintenance on the system,” he said.  “Probing into the documents themselves is not something that he should be doing or have an interest in doing at all.”

Prosecutors Francesco Refalo and Nathaniel Falzon are representing the office of the Attorney General in the proceedings. Police Superintendent Frank Tabone and Inspector Thomas Zammit are prosecuting.

Lawyers Alfred Abela and Mario Buttigieg are defence counsel to Jason Farrugia, whilst lawyer Lennox Vella is representing Christine Farrugia.