Galea given leave to travel despite investigation, inspector rebuffed by AG on warrant

Security Service employee in Muscat holiday party requires government inquiry says former MP

Iosif Galea
Iosif Galea

The Maltese gaming consultant whose arrest in Italy is now the subject of an internal police inquiry that is putting heat on police top brass, was granted permission to leave Malta on holiday in mid-May by a police inspector.

But questions are mounting as to whether top brass allowed Iosif Galea unfettered liberty to travel from Malta, despite knowledge of a German EAW for a tax investigation implicated him.

Iosif Galea, arrested in Italy between the 14-15 May on the strength of that EAW, had already been arrested in Malta in January in a joint operation by the cybercrime unit and the Financial Crime Investigations Department.

After an extensive search that included the seizure of his electronic devices, Galea was later granted police bail, which MaltaToday understands to have lasted three months. Since then Galea was allowed to travel from Malta multiple times, with investigating offers granting him an exemption to leave.

The internal police inquiry is supposed to investigate the nature of these instructions, although critics claim four police officers – an assistant commissioner, a superintendent, and two police inspectors from the SIRENE unit and the cybercrime unit – risk being ‘framed’ for following orders from top brass.

It was only after Galea’s arrest that the Maltese police issued their own EAW, reportedly a face-saving measure that emerged in the press a week later. Later it was made known that Maltese police had been all the time aware of the German EAW.

Arnold Cassola, the independent politician, yesterday said one of the police inspectors from the SIRENE unit facing the internal inquiry, had been chasing the Attorney General for over seven months to effect the German EAW against Galea. “Up to yesterday this certificate was not issued by the AG. Judge Franco Depasquale will not be allowed to access such info at the AG office,” he said of the retired judge leading the internal police inquiry.

The rule-of-law NGO Repubblika accused Commissioner of Police Angelo Gafà and deputy commissioner Alexandro Mamo, the head of the FCID, of using the inquiry to blame the police officers for allowing Galea to travel despite his implication in a Maltese money laundering probe, where his arrest by the Italians has caused the Maltese force major embarrassment.

MSS employee in Muscat holiday party

Galea was arrested in Italy where he was to join his partner, an assistant of Michelle Muscat, also on holiday with husband Joseph Muscat, the former prime minister.

The Muscat holiday party at the Cellini San Marco, an agritourism resort owned by famed Italian singer Al Bano, included long-time friends: Amanda Xuereb, a police sergeant detailed to the Malta Security Service’s accounts section, and her husband Manuel Vassallo, a former police officer today employed as security with the American embassy.

This detail raises questions as to whether the German EAW was constantly given scant attention by Maltese law enforcement.

Former Nationalist MP Jason Azzopardi took up the issue of Xuereb’s friendship with Michelle Muscat, querying whether the police officer had informed her MSS superiors of Galea’s presence. “It’s for this reason that this investigation cannot be carried out by an internal police board that reports to the minister only and stays confidential, but by a board of inquiry set up by the Inquiries Act that must publish its report,” he said on Facebook.

“It is through such an inquiry that we can learn whether this MSS member’s actions during this trip were appropriate, given that the MSS does not fall under the police’s remit to investigate.”

The Home Affairs minister has refused to comment on the presence of an MSS employee in the same holiday party, citing the Security Services Act’s provisions on confidentiality.