Spanish investigators link Maltese tuna rancher to illegal trade

According to Spanish investigators, a Maltese company is a source of tuna for illicit trade

Local tuna farm operator Malta Fish Farming (MFF) was allegedly involved in the sale of illegal tuna to Spain, leaked police documents show.

The documents, seen by MaltaToday, claim the fish was transported to Spain via Italy and France, using catamarans, speedboats, as well as commercial airlines.

Illegal operators would pass the tuna off as a different, cheaper species of tuna, or would forge catch documentation to avoid detection.

The documents include a number of transcripts of phone conversations between people believed to be key players in the network.

Documents name the Maltese company which transported the cargo
Documents name the Maltese company which transported the cargo

One of the central figures is Khalid Mouslim, a Moroccan national associated with the companies Pescnort Mar SL and Marfishval SL.

“The participation of Khalid Mouslim is essential in the process of acquisition of the fish, as well as their sale and distribution in our country,” the investigators say, adding that he is “essential” in the falsification of documents.

Shipments of tuna would be received at “Ship B” berthed in Beniparrell, before being distributed to different locations around the country.

Mouslin, is described as the “lieutenant” of Carlos Fernandez, the man behind the companies Pescnort Mar SL and Marfishval SL. Both companies are believed to have imported illegally caught tuna into Spain invoicing each other more than €23 million.

According to the investigators, the Maltese company Malta Fishing Farm is a source of the tuna being distributed by companies associated with Mouslim. 

The documents name Giovanni Ellul, the CEO of Malta Fish Farming as being the point of contact for the illicit trade.

“Khalid calls Carlos and tells him that he has been talking to Giovanni Ellul and that there is no way to share a truck, that they have been able to sell the difference and that there were 18 tons, which will make him 45 pieces (Blue Fin Tuna),” reads another excerpt.

The documents show Spanish investigators tacking one particular shipment from Malta Fish Farming, showing how with the highest quality tuna was flown in through Madrid’s main airport.

“The repeated delivery of the goods in the ship B managed by Khalid Mouslim in Beniparrell (Valencia) by the logistics company Express Trailers Limited is repeatedly observed,” the documents say.

Contacted by El Confidencial, Saviour Ellul, Giovanni’s father, categorically denied ever being involved in the smuggling of illegal fish from Malta to Spain.

Earlier this month, the newspaper published transcripts of conversations between the now suspended director general of the Maltese Fisheries Department and the king of Spanish blue fin tuna operators, José Fuentes García.

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