Iosif Galea arrested at Brindisi airport in mid-May – Italian press reports

Cassola requests Ombudsman investigaton after gaming consultant sought by Germans on arrest warrant related to tax investigation, was arrested at Brindisi airport on 14-15 May

Iosif Galea
Iosif Galea

Maltese gaming consultant Iosif Galea was arrested in Italy at least two weeks ago, on the night of 14 and 15 May, well before notice from the Maltese police of a European Arrest Warrant was made known.

According to newspapers in the Italian city of Brindisi, in the Apulia region, Galea, 40, was arrested on the night of 14-15 May as he arrived for a holiday he was to take at Cellino San Marco.

Cellino San Marco is a commune in the province of Brindisi, home to a viticulture holding of the famous Italian singer Albano Carrisi.

Galea was said to have been joining his partner Maria Grech, a longtime assistant of Michelle Muscat, wife of the erstwhile prime minister Joseph Muscat, at the Marigold Foundation.

Galea was arrested on the strength of a German EAW concerning a tax investigation, but earlier this week on 25 May the Maltese police had confirmed it had also issued its own EAW for Galea’s arrest.

Former PM Joseph Muscat denied having a personal or professional relationship with Galea, a one-time gaming authority employee who had been implicated in the Dalligate affair. Today Galea is wanted by Maltese police on suspicion of being part of a criminal conspiracy where someone inside the MGA leaked sensitive information to Galea.

The Times of Malta reported on Sunday that Galea, who was wanted by German authorities, was arrested while on holiday in Italy with his partner, and a holiday group which included the former PM and his family. Galea had been the subject of the German EAW since early 2021.

Muscat insisted he had no connections to the case, telling the newspaper that “to indicate to the contrary is not only gratuitous but also totally baseless sensationalism”.

“Mr Galea has for the past few months been the boyfriend of a long-time friend who was in the group,” Muscat said. We were travelling with a larger group of friends and acquaintances for a short holiday. A few hours after our arrival we were informed that Mr Galea was being detained. The rest of the group continued with our holiday and returned to Malta a few days later as planned,” he said.

Muscat said he was not spoken to by the police over the case, stating he was not aware of any arrest warrant against Galea.

Galea appears to be connected to the cases of money laundering charges issued against former gaming authority employees.

Independent candidate Arnold Cassola accused the Maltese police of having allowed Iosif Galea to leave Malta despite long-held knowledge of Italian investigators’ interest in Galea’s role for various betting companies.

Arnold Cassola has now requested an investigation by the Ombudsman over police inaction in the arrest of Galea.

Cassola said the Ombudsman should investigate why Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafà did not arrest Galea earlier on the strength of the German EAW, and media officer Brandon Pisani for not having communicate the existence of the EAW before.

“They have played a dirty game. When they realised Galea was under arrest in Italy, they issued a Maltese EAW to give the impression that that was the reason Galea was under arrest. They used a bona fide journalist to broadcast this sham EAW on 27 May. As a citizen, I want you to investigate why the Maltese police did not arrest Galea before, who gave the order to keep him free and not to arrest him on his departure from Malta, if Gafà had political pressure not to arrest Galea, why his arrest was kept a secret, and why the EAW was issued after the arrest.”

Cassola said this was a serious situation. “Malta needs a police corps that protects its citizens against delinquents, and not vice-versa.”