Jail for Iosif Galea in German tax evasion case

Gaming consultant Iosiof Galea sentenced to two and a half years in prison over €1.7 million tax evasion

Iosif Galea
Iosif Galea

The gaming consultant Iosif Galea, arrested in Italy on the strength of a German arrest warrant, has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a German court for tax evasion.

As director of Tipbet Limited, Galea was found guilty in Frankfurt of evading €1.7 million in taxes over between 2017 and 2019, which were owed to the German state. Tipbet is owned by a Turkish national but is registered as a Maltese company.

Galea was arrested in Italy after landing in the country for a three-day holiday to join his partner and her employer, Michelle Muscat, together with husband Joseph Muscat – the former prime minister, earlier this year.

Galea had been granted police bail in Malta to take leave for his short holiday. He was being investigated in connection with trading in influence charges against a top Malta Gaming Authority official.

But police failed to carry out relevant checks on Galea before granting him discretionary leave: it turns out that he had been the subject of a German-issued European Arrest Warrant.

In an internal police complaint filed by the Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafà, who had investigated Galea in connection with the Dalligate scandal of 2012, it was revealed that three German requests to the Maltese police had been ignored.

The first request was sent in late 2021. By the time Galea was placed on police bail over the MGA investigation, and then granted leave to travel in June, it turned out that three reminders from the Germans had been ignored by the Maltese police liaison officer for EAWs.

Galea was handed over to the German authorities by the Italian police after being arrested upon arrival in Italy. Galea has asked the German authorities to allow him to serve his prison sentence in Malta.

Iosif Galea was already investigated back in 2012 as part of the Maltese Dalligate investigation, in which former EU Commissioner John Dalli was suspected of having communicated with a canvasser, Silvio Zammit, on the prospect of a multi-million bribe related to smokeless tobacco legislation. Galea was then identified as a friend of both Dalli and Zammit, as well as of lobbyist Gayle Kimberley, also implicated in the OLAF investigation carried out in Brussels.