New emails reveal Farrugia’s insider knowledge at transport authority

Pardoned oil trader George Farrugia served as a middleman in the purchase of lighting systems for Transport Malta and was privy to sensitive information that put the companies he represented in a favourable position to win tenders

Oil trader George Farrugia has served as a middleman in the purchase of lighting systems for Transport Malta and was privy to sensitive information that put the companies he represented in a favourable position to win tenders, new emails passed on to MaltaToday show.

The oil trader is the recipient of a presidential pardon granted to him in 2013 conditional on him spilling the beans on the scale of bribery inside Enemalta, where he greased top officials to assist him in winning fuel procurement  contracts for his clients TOTSA and Trafigura.

But the emails published today by this newspaper show that Farrugia was also keen on keeping  contact with a key official at the Malta Transport Authority (TM’s forerunner), going as far as organising a trip for him to Austria to discuss traffic lighting systems.

The new information adds more to the complex jigsaw puzzle of George Farrugia and his self-serving friendships with officials inside government regulators and corporations.

Revealed:  Farrugia’s insider knowledge at Transport Malta

The new emails show that George Farrugia organised trips for a key official at the Malta Transport Authority to visit Austria to discuss traffic lighting systems. 

The Austrian company, Swarco, which Farrugia represented, was later to win lucrative tenders for lighting systems along kilometres of roads in Malta and Gozo.

This is revealed today by MaltaToday, supported by a number of emails that are in the possession of this newspaper.

It all started with the setting up by George Farrugia of a new company known as ATMS Company Limited. The company was struck off in 2012 after it was discovered that Farrugia had been defrauding his brothers – of family firm John’s Group – by siphoning off the profits on the sale of fuel oil from subsidiary firm Powerplan, to his personal company Aikon Limited.

ATMS was set up in 2007 after George Farrugia made contact with an Austrian company for the provision of traffic signs and lighting. It appears that the Austrian company had already made some sales to ADT.

The contact from transport authority ADT (Awtorità Dwar it-Trasport) who worked with George Farrugia was Kenneth Spiteri, a senior official. The emails in fact show that Spiteri kept Farrugia informed of most tendering pre-developments at ADT.

Emails sent from Spiteri’s Gmail account and work account to George Farrugia included specific details of upcoming tenders or projects.  Farrugia would also be kept in the loop with emails sent to foreign suppliers.

The emails expose the lack of respect for tendering procedures between the regulator, and commercial suppliers.

Spiteri also seems to have been the adjudicator in many tenders: in one email written to a certain Morten Sondergaard of the Austrian lighting company Swarco, Spiteri informs him:  “PS., the other cheaper option was 14,415 euro with VAT and freight included please try not to exceed it because then I need choose the cheaper option. Thanks Kenneth.”

The email was dated 8 January, 2008, sent two months after George Farrugia set up the company ATMS.

Apart from knowing Kenneth Spiteri, Farrugia also was very well acquainted with Ray Stafrace, who was not only the chief financial officer at Transport Malta but also the accountant who offered his office address for Farrugia’s Aikon Limited, the secret company he used to transfer the money made off Powerplan’s sales of fuel oil, and into his Swiss bank account.

Today Ray Stafrace, a Certified Public Accountant, holds the post of director of procurement at Transport Malta.

In the investigations that kicked off following MaltaToday’s reports into bribery at Enemalta in January 2013, the police only skimmed over Stafrace’s involvement, simply noting that he had once served as accountant at the Mediterranean Offshore Bunkering Company Ltd (MOBC) – where Frank Sammut was executive director.

It was an invoice for the payment of a kickback from Trafigura to Sammut that blew wide open the scale of corruption inside Enemalta.

Farrugia, who has admitted to the kickbacks that were forwarded to the petrochemist Frank Sammut, maintained an extensive network of contacts inside government regulators.

Among these were Malta Resources Authority official Godwin Sant, who has also been arraigned in court by police for having received gifts from Farrugia.

Farrugia was involved in the construction of petrol stations and  Sant now faces criminal charges for allegedly aiding George Farrugia by providing him with crucial information on petrol pump tenders.

The latest revelations point to more potential insider information being passed on to Farrugia but never disclosed by the businessman when he was obliged to reveal all as a condition for his presidential pardon in 2013 – a pardon awarded days after MaltaToday broke the story of Frank Sammut’s kickback from Trafigura.