Updated | Government refusing claim for whistleblower protection to former FIAU worker

Former FIAU official Jonathan Ferris has received a long-awaited reply to a judicial protest he filed after government failed to grant him whistleblower status • Whistleblower unit says Ferris did not qualify for protection

Former Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit official Jonathan Ferris did not qualify for official whistleblower protection because he had “failed to act in line with the dispositions of Protection of the Whistleblower Act”, an External Whistleblower Unit officer Philip Massa has claimed.

Ferris had filed a judicial protest two weeks ago against Massa, Prime Minister Joseph Muscat, the Minister for Justice Owen Bonnici and the Attorney General saying the Unit had repeatedly moved the goalposts to derail his application for whistleblower protection.

He has repeatedly accused the government of failing to grant him whistleblower status, despite what he says were clear assurances by Muscat and Bonnici to the European Parliament.

Ferris, a former police inspector with the Economic Crimes Unit, had been fired from a new post at the FIAU not long after joining the unit. He claims that this happened because he dug too deep in his investigations into government corruption allegations, and insists the termination of his employment was illegal and abusive and the result of ministerial interference.

He had later filed a case before the Industrial Tribunal, arguing unfair dismissal and in January, had filed a judicial protest against the Attorney General, demanding whistleblower status which he claims was being unreasonably withheld. He had been asked by an OPM unit to disclose all information he had before actually being granted whistleblower status.

But in a counter-protest filed last week, both the Prime Minister and Bonnici denied being the appropriate defendants in the matter, while Massa simply said that Ferris did not qualify for protection.

Contacted for their views, Ferris' legal team expressed polite disdain for the Government's repetition of their stonewalling tactics, in direct contrast to the way they had spoken to the MEPs.

“Mr Ferris will not be stopping here,” they promised.

Civil Society Network statement

The Civil Society Network has issued a statement condemning with no reservations the External Whistleblower Unit’s decision to not grant whistleblower status to Ferris.

Expressing its solidarity with the former FIAU official, CSN said it believed the decision to be more proof that Malta’s public authorities “do not want to shed light on the grave allegations of criminal offences committed over the past years concerning members of the Maltese government and individuals associated to it.”

It regretfully noted that, more than ever before, an “insitutionalised omertà” exists in Malta.

“CSN believes that this decision regarding Ferris shows that the claims made by the Prime Minister in the days following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia are absolutely not credible,” it said.

“On the contrary, the news of the arrest of the owner of Pilatus Bank in the United States in these past days, as well as of the investigation of an employee of the office of the Prime Minister regarding theft from Daphne Caruana Galizia's memorial, shows that there is a great attempt not only to brush off allegations of serious crimes but to cancel Daphne Caruana Galizia's memory.”

“The Maltese public deserves better than this,” it added.

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