Attorney General reviewing George Farrugia pardon

Oil trader George Farrugia in botched bunkering deal for Sicily port

The Attorney General has been asked to carry out an initial review into whether a revocation of the presidential pardon given to oil trader George Farrugia is possible.

The news comes in the wake of the confirmation on appeal of the acquittal of Ray Ferris, a former Enemalta chief procurements officer who had been accused by Farrugia of having solicited a €40,000 bribe.

The bribe was allegedly asked to influence the privatisation process for Enemalta’s petroleum division, the state energy corporation’s fuel products arm in which Farrugia – an agent for commodities giants Trafigura and Totsa – had an interest in.

The news also coincides with reports MaltaToday has received that Farrugia, still assisted by his legal counsel and long-time friend, Siegfried Borg Cole, has been seeking business opportunities in Sicily.

This newspaper is informed that Farrugia had only recently made contacts to access the oil bunkering business in the Sicilian port of Augusta, but that a deal with the Trieste-based bunkering giant Decal, had fallen through. Sources say the Italians pulled out of the deal.

Since turning State’s evidence to spill the beans over the way he devised a system of bribes for the procurement of fuel oil to Enemalta, Farrugia has also been reported as having sought discussions with major oil companies in Paris with the aim of opening a string of petrol stations in Libya.

While Prime Minister Joseph Muscat has said his government will consider the implications of revoking Farrugia’s pardon, a cautious Jason Azzopardi – shadow justice minister – has warned against withdrawing the pardon as a tool to fight criminality.

Farrugia was offered a pardon in February 2013 shortly after MaltaToday revealed that Frank Sammut, a former Enemalta consultant, had taken a kickback from Trafigura which was deposited in a Gibraltar company; Farrugia had been in attendance during a meeting discussing the kickback.

Farrugia then outed several Enemalta officials, among them Ray Ferris. He said Ferris had accepted the gift of a silver tray worth thousands in return for his alleged influence. But it transpired in court proceedings that Ferris was gifted the Christmas memento of negligible value, which he then redeemed at the jewellers’ where it had been purchased from and added money of his own to purchase a higher-value item.

In the Appeals Court, Ms Justice Edwina Grima ruled that there was no proof of corruption, saying the small gift had not been requested by Ferris in return for any influence; and that there was no proof that Ferris had requested the sum of €40,000 to influence the liberalisation of Enemalta’s petroleum division, whose privatisation was in the hands of the finance ministry’s Privatisation Unit.