Ferris fell below expectations, FIAU says in denial of politically motivated sacking

FIAU breaks silence over sacking of former police investigator Jonathan Ferris, who is pursuing an unfair dismissal case against the agency

Jonathan Ferris was manager analysis with the FIAU
Jonathan Ferris was manager analysis with the FIAU

Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit has broken its silence over the sacking of investigator Jonathan Ferris, saying he fell “clearly short of the organisation’s expectations”.

The FIAU, which investigates suspected transaction reports before these are handed to police, sacked the former police inspector soon after the June 2017 election.

It has denied any political motivations behind his termination within his probationary period.

The FIAU said the decision to sack Ferris, who was manager of the analysis section, was “based solely on an objective and comprehensive performance assessment”.

“The performance assessments established that Mr Ferris, irrespective of any other qualities which he may have, had clearly fallen short of the expectations of the organisation associated with his role of Manager of the Analysis Section.

“It was therefore decided that it was not in the best interest of the FIAU to retain the employee,” the FIAU said, saying Ferris was sacked during his probation period.

Ferris has since then filed an unfair dismissal case in the Industrial Tribunal, and has also gone public saying that his findings on Azerbaijani interests in Pilatus Bank could embarrass the government.

Ferris was sacked after a snap election called by Joseph Muscat was provoked by claims of a former Pilatus employee, Russian national Maria Efimova, who told the late journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia she saw a declaration of trust showing Muscat’s wife Michelle to be the owner of a secret Panama company. The allegations is the subject of a magisterial inquiry.

The FIAU said it categorically denied that Ferris’s sacking was motivated by any political or discriminatory motives to stop him from performing his duties.

“The FIAU categorically and in the most forceful manner denies that there was any political, ministerial, police or any other form of government-related instruction, direction, interference, influence or communication of any type, whether directly or indirectly, addressed to any member of the board of governors or the director or any other official of the FIAU, in connection with the decision to terminate the employment of Mr Ferris,” the FIAU said.

It added that allegations against the FIAU were “unfounded and irresponsible speculation” that were causing it incalculable damage internationally. “[This] will only serve to undermine the FIAU’s ability to carry out its duties and functions to fight money laundering, underlying crime and the financing of terrorism.”

In a reaction, Ferris’s legal team deplored what it said was a “transparent attempt to influence the Industrial Tribunal” and said he would consider what action to take.

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