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Ex-MGA Chief Found Guilty of Leaking Secrets to Casino Mogul Yorgen Fenech

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Heathcliff Farrugia, the CEO of the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) until his resignation in 2020, has been found guilty of sharing classified information with Yorgen Fenech, owner of a number of casinos including Hilton Malta and Portomaso Casino and alleged mastermind behind journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s murder. The court convicted Farrugia for leaking details about an impending audit at a rival gaming establishment owned by Eden Leisure Group.

Text Messages Show Former MGA Boss Informed Fenech of Upcoming Casino Audit

The prosecution built their case on material extracted from Fenech’s mobile phone when it was confiscated during his 2019 arrest. This device was later examined by Europol who identified a string of messages sent between him and Farrugia. These texts showed that the former MGA boss had tipped off Fenech about an upcoming inspection being conducted at a rival casino not connected to his Tumas Gaming company, as reported by Times of Malta.

During the exchange, Fenech commented on an anti-money laundering review of his own casinos that had damaged Portomaso’s and Oracle’s (both owned by Fenech) reputations. Farrugia then responded that findings were yet to be made public and promised to do what he could to delay their release. 

He went further by divulging information regarding another probe set for Casino Malta, owned by Eden Leisure Group, saying there would be a problem on Tuesday without specifying which Tuesday or what exactly he meant thereby.

Court Rules Against Former MGA CEO, Highlighting Confidentiality Breach

During the hearing, inspector George Frendo testified how these messages signified a breach of confidentiality committed by Farrugia. However, Farrugia argued that this disclosure was only trying to console Fenech and show that such actions were taken across the whole sector. 

Magistrate Ian Farrugia, who presided over the case, eventually ruled there had been a violation of professional duties and that Farrugia was expected to keep these facts a secret as the information was highly confidential. 

Although he faced serious charges, Farrugia received a conditional discharge sentence meaning unless he commits another crime during the next three years he will serve no time in prison. However, Farrugia still plans to appeal this decision.

Farrugia resigned from MGA after being questioned by police officers representing the Malta police force who believed there were grounds justifying further action. His time at MGA saw him occupy various positions before eventually reaching the top job in 2018. 

The MGA has come under increased scrutiny following the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder probe that has so far caused significant political fallout within Malta.

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