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Heathcliff Farrugia, ex-CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA), has been convicted for leaking secrets to the alleged mastermind of an investigative journalist’s murder.

Malta’s Magistrate’s Court ruled yesterday (27 May) that Farrugia revealed official secrets by informing casino mogul Yorgen Fenech of an upcoming raid on a rival’s casino.

The rule comes as Fenech continues to await trial for charges relating to the murder of investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017.

The prosecution has accused Fenech of masterminding the murder, a charge he vigorously denies.

Meanwhile, Magistrate Ian Farrugia handed the ex-MGA chief a conditional discharge for the crime of revealing official secrets, meaning he will not serve jail time unless a further offence is committed.

The former MGA chief resigned in November 2020 shortly after being questioned by police relating to messages sent to Fenech.

Fenech was arrested over connections to the Galizia case by police in 2019 as he attempted to leave Malta’s waters in a private yacht.

Inspector George Frendo testified that he was assigned the case after Fenech’s phone was analysed by Europol and a chat with Heathcliff Farrugia flagged.

A 24-page conversation, in which Farrugia informed Fenech of an upcoming raid on a rival’s casino, took place between 9:19 PM and 10:08 PM on 23 September 2019.

At the time, Fenech was CEO of Tumas Gaming and Portomaso Casino.

Heathcliff reveals Casino Malta inspection

In the messages, Fenech expressed disappointment at the outcome of a compliance review into Tumas, arguing that the only purpose of it was to harm the business’ reputation.

He added this, not the potential fine, formed the basis of his objection to the anti-money laundering probe.

Farrugia attempted to console Fenech by claiming the contents of the report were not public and he would try to buy time to delay its release.

The MGA chief also told the prominent businessman about a future inspection at the Portomaso Casino’s competitor, Casino Malta.

It was this detail that Farrugia was found guilty for, with the magistrate ruling that in sharing the information, the ex-regulator had revealed official secrets.

An investigation by Malta’s Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit confirmed that the Casino Malta inspection did indeed occur in the following weeks.

Heathcliff Farrugia served a nearly seven year stint in the MGA in several roles, becoming CEO in 2018.

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