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Iosif Galea sent MGA official and his wife over €150,000 in three years

Updated 5.12pm

A Malta Gaming Authority official and his wife received over €150,000 from former gaming consultant Iosif Galea over a three-year span but claimed not to know him, a court heard on Tuesday. 

But investigators told the court that while they had mapped out those payments, they were unable to discover the link between the trio or the reason why Galea made those money transfers. 

Galea stands accused of financial crimes and money laundering related to those payments. The MGA official involved, Jason Farrugia, was the regulator's chief technical officer at the time. 

While the police's financial crimes investigations department probed Galea, a parallel investigation by the police's cybercrime unit into Farrugia was going on, the court heard.

The investigation into Farrugia was triggered by suspicion he was illegally leaking data to Galea. 

The officer was testifying in proceedings where Galea is pleading not guilty to money laundering, financial crimes and misuse of electronic equipment. 

When the case resumed on Tuesday, the witness detailed the various transactions involving Galea, who at the time acted as gaming consultant to numerous companies and received substantial sums of money for his services. 

Between August 2018 and September 2021, Galea had sent Jason Farrugia some €130,600 via Revolut.

There were other transactions whereby Galea sent money to both Farrugia and his wife, Christine, who are currently facing similar charges in separate proceedings. 

Between 2017 and 2020, Galea issued six cheques to Farrugia, totaling €11,000.

Another 22 cheques were issued to Farrugia’s wife, totaling €29,150.17 of which were deposited in her husband’s account at BNF bank.

The last cheque was not deposited. 

Yet, when police questioned the Farrugia couple, they both said that they did not know Galea and could not explain those transactions. 

When asked whether he had any business with Galea, Farrugia had opted not to answer.

At the time, Galea had been slapped with a fine for offering his consultancy services without a licence. 

Financial crimes investigations had not determined the reason why those monies had been transferred.

Those investigations were triggered by the suspected leak of data from the authority’s database by Farrugia to Galea, a leak that was being investigated by the cybercrime police.

Asked by defence lawyer Edward Gatt whether the financial investigators had spoken to the authority, the witness replied in the negative. 

The suspected data breach was being investigated by the cybercrime arm. 

Asked whether investigators had spoken to the “big companies” sending funds to Galea, the witness again said “no”.

Owen Bugeja, an official heading the MGA software development department testified that Farrugia, as former chief technical officer, had full rights over the authority’s system. 

That access was blocked on December 9, 2021, following a meeting with the CEO after the suspected data breach first surfaced. 

A consultant to over 70 gaming operators, Galea had access to the MGA portal but did not have internal access to any operator he had nothing to do with. 

Asked by the prosecution as to who authorised Galea’s access, Bugeja said that such access was normally given by the authorisation team. 

Galea had one username and password. 

Someone from Farrugia’s work laptop accessed Galea’s credentials and submitted applications in his name.

Further investigations could find out “the person behind that laptop,” said the witness, explaining further that Farrugia did not need a username since through internal users, he had access to all MGA operators’ documents. 

Galea’s username was limited only to documents he had access to. 

On the day that Farrugia’s access was blocked, there was an attempted login but no activity. 

The case, presided over by Magistrate Rachel Montebello, continues.