Updated | Suspend fisheries director, Malta acquaculture lobby says over bribery allegations

Tuna lobby says Andreina Fenech Farrugia has to be suspended until a clearer picture of the allegations emerge

Charlon Gouder
Charlon Gouder

The Federation of Maltese Acquaculture Producers has demanded the suspension of Malta’s fisheries director Andreina Fenech Farrugia, over news that she could have requested a payment by Spanish tuna giant Fuentes. 

The company owns a Maltese subsidiary that is not a member of the FMAP lobby. 

“This news is worrying and requires immediate action,” lawyer Charlon Gouder, head of the lobby said. “It requires immediate action to at least preserve any form of evidence.” 

A Spanish investigation of illegally caught bluefin tuna in the Mediterranean has implicated Malta’s fisheries head with phone intercepts showing how Andreina Fenech Farrugia asked for payment. Transcripts of the conservations between Fenech Farrugia and the king of Spanish blue fin tuna operators, José Fuentes García, were leaked to the Spanish media house El Confidencial. In one conversation intercepted by the Spanish investigative authorities on 20 June last year, Fenech Farrugia told Fuentes: “I’m in Bulgaria just for you, you have to pay me, because there’s a meeting and I’m with the [director] general of Brussels.” 

Gouder said the FMAP was calling for Fenech Farrugia’s suspension. 

“I understand that she has or could have her defence, and before any final judgement, everyone is presumed innocent. On the other hand, it is with sorrow that I say the industry is being polluted by these allegations. It would be in everyone’s interest that she suspends herself, at least until there is a clearer picture of the matter. The federation is following these developments through its lawyer in Spain, appointed on Operation Tarantela.” 

FMAP statement

In a subsequent statement, the FMAP said it was noting with satisfaction “measures taken by the government to undo the international damage being inflicted on Malta’s aquaculture industry”.

In the statement, Gouder said that what had been revealed in the international press was of concern, adding that while “everyone should be considered until proven otherwise, however there is a pressing need for the industry’s reputation to be restored”.

He called for evidence on the case to be preserved for any future eventuality.

FMAP, he said, would continue monitoring developments in Spain through lawyers it has appointed to follow all legal proceedings.  

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