FIAU dismissals ‘in agency’s best interest’, Finance Minister tells PANA chair

PANA committee chair Werner Langen has written to Finance Minister Edward Scicluna asking why two FIAU officials have been fired

The employment of two officials at Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit was “terminated according to law during their probationary period”, Finance Minister Edward Scicluna has told PANA committee chairman, Werner Langen.

The German MEP has written to Scicluna, demanding an explanation as to why compliance manager Charles Cronin and former police inspector Jonathan Ferris were fired.

Langen reportedly told Scicluna that the two were dismissed without justification.

The FIAU is tasked with investigating suspicious transaction reports in financial services. It was at the heart of the run-up to 2017’s snap election, when a series of leaks revealed the extent of interest in the affairs of the prime minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri.
The findings are now the subject of various magisterial inquiries.

In a letter to Langen, made available to the media, Scicluna said that there was “nothing whatsoever to indicate that the decision was not taken according to objective criteria, and in the best interest of the FIAU”.

“I can assure you that the FIAU board has always acted in an appropriate manner, and has taken management decisions in an autonomous manner and without any external interference,” Scicluna wrote.

“I am sure you agree that it is in the best interest that the institution will continue to act accordingly.”

The minister described speculations circulated in certain speeches and other media as being “unfounded and without substance”.

It has been reported that the sacking of the two officials took place just days after Scicluna questioned whether the FIAU reports “were written to be leaked”. The minister has insisted that his comments had nothing to do with the dismissals.

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