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Malta’s former gaming authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia faces probe into trading in influence with casino owner

Malta’s former gaming authority CEO Heathcliff Farrugia has been charged over trading in influence with murder suspect and 17 Black owner Yorgen Fenech.

Fenech who served as CEO of Tumas Gaming and the Portomaso Casino, is facing charges of being an accomplice in the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Times of Malta confirmed that Farrugia was charged in January according to a report published on Monday morning.

In October, Farrugia resigned claiming he was moving to the private sector. The chief officer in charge of authorisation Karl Brincat Peplow also stepped down on that day.

Farrugia was interrogated by police over his relationship with Fenech over the WhatsApp exchanges between the two. It was also reported that he was questioned on a wider number of issues relating to the iGaming sector and other industries.

Quoting sources, the daily newspaper said the criminal proceedings were kept under wraps to avoid putting the industry in bad light.

Malta is facing a crucial Moneyval test which could result in greylisting if it fails. Two years ago, the country failed an exhaustive test of its anti-money laundering regime and now risks being put on a list of untrustworthy countries or the ‘grey list’.

According to the report, Farrugia had communicated “at some length” with Fenech. The exchange included commercially sensitive information about rival casinos and a money-laundering inspection into Fenech’s casino.

This is just one of the several WhatsApp exchanges which Fenech had with top officials which is under investigation by the police. Fenech’s WhatsApp messages were lifted off after his phone was seized following his arrest in November 2019.

The messages are yet to be exhibited in court.