Socialist MEP calls for whistleblower status for former FIAU investigator

Portuguese MEP Ana Gomes says former FIAU investigator Jonathan Ferris should be granted whistleblower status

Socialist MEP Ana Gomes
Socialist MEP Ana Gomes

Socialist MEP Ana Gomes has called on the Maltese government to grant whistleblower status to Jonathan Ferris, the sacked FIAU investigator.

Gomes led a fact-finding mission of MEPs to Malta on the rule of law, and said she was monitoring developments on the application for whistleblower status by the former police investigator.

“Progress in this regard is very slow, since a decision to grant Jonathan Ferris whistleblower status has yet to materialise. The status had already been requested when the EP Delegation visited Malta, on 31 November-1st December 2017. I believe that the information in Mr Ferris’s possession may be important,” the MEP said.

“I call again on the Maltese government to ensure he is given whistleblower status and to take all appropriate measures to ensure adequate protection to him and his family,” Gomes said of Ferris, who has declared he will release information related to his past investigations at the FIAU before his sacking.

File photo of Jonathan Ferris accompanying OLAF head Giovanni Kessler to a Maltese court in the case against Silvio Zammit
File photo of Jonathan Ferris accompanying OLAF head Giovanni Kessler to a Maltese court in the case against Silvio Zammit

“I am disturbed to hear that he is being asked to divulge information to the Office of the Prime Minister prior to being granted the status. If that is confirmed, it is totally unacceptable –particularly when the said information may include further relevant elements about a Minister and the Chief of the Office of the Prime Minister, persons who were already exposed in the Panama Papers but are kept in government,” Gomes said.

Ferris was a former police inspector who joined the Financial Analysis Information Unit, from which he would be sacked while still on probation shortly after the June 2017 election.

He filed an unfair dismissal claim before the Industrial Tribunal, but an affidavit he filed in the case is being opposed by the Attorney General due to confidentiality and secrecy rules.

Ferris has already said he will produce documents alleging millions of euros were processed by the private bank Pilatus Bank for powerful Azerbaijanis.

In comments to The Times of London, Ferris insisted that the government is attempting to stop him publishing further accusations that allegedly detail Malta’s mysterious links to Azerbaijan’s ruling clan.

The Attorney General wants to hold the proceedings of the unfair dismissal claim behind closed doors.

Ferris has also claimed in his protest to the courts, that his termination of employment was politically motivated, referring specifically to comments made by finance minister Edward Scicluna in Brussels which Ferris said were “without doubt the politically partisan background that informed the actions of the [FIAU].”

Ferris was referring to Scicluna’s comments after the elections, where the minister surmised that excerpts of an unfinished FIAU investigation were written with “an intent to be leaked” to the press in the run-up to the election.

A leaked extract from an unfinished FIAU investigation published by The Malta Independent had alleged money was transferred to a Dubai company called 17 Black by the local company behind the LNG tanker powering the new gas-fired station. According to the extract, 17 Black was listed as the firm that would pay money into the once-secret Panama companies owned by Schembri and Mizzi.

Both men denied the allegations, and the FIAU has said no conclusive report exists.

The name ’17 Black’ had cropped up months earlier in an enigmatic blogpost by Daphne Caruana Galizia, which she referred to simply as “a company in Dubai” with the faces of former EU commissioner John Dalli, Schembri, Mizzi and Joseph Muscat – but no explanation was given for the post.

According to the excerpts from a 120-page report, the Dubai companies 17 Black and Macbridge were described as target clients of Tillgate Inc. and Hearnville Inc – the offshore companies set up for Schembri and Mizzi.

Mario Pullicino, the owner of Orion Engineering and company secretary of the Armada Floating Gas Services company which operates the LNG tanker, denied accusations that his company was involved in kickbacks destined for Schembri and Mizzi.

 

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