Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa has not launched a fresh selection process to appoint a new chief of the financial crimes department despite the passage of three months since a request was made by the Public Service Commission.

The Financial Crimes Investigation Department (FCID), which has emerged in recent years as a key and high-profile police department, may now be without a chief after the retirement of Deputy Commissioner Alexandra Mamo, who took the helm in June of 2020. It is not clear whether Mamo has already retired or in the process of retiring. Malta Today reported last Sunday that she had been on leave for three months, but one source told this website she still seems to be performing duties or reporting for work.  

A selection process for new financial crimes department chief was carried out earlier the year. In that process, which was intended to appoint a new Assistant Commissioner who would then take over the helm of the FCID, Superintendent Frank Tabone ranked first while Superintendent George Cremona and Superintendent Louise Calleja ranked second and third respectively.

But that selection process was annulled by the Public Service Commission – a Constitutional entity responsible for staffing within the public service or State apparatus – due to rules on conflict of interest. This is because the selection board was headed by Mamo and the Superintendent who ranked first, Frank Tabone, had been working under Mamo’s wings as chief of one of the squads within the FCID.

The FCID is comprised of two squads: the Anti-Money Laundering and Terror Financing Squad, which had been led by Tabone, and the Economic Crimes Squad, which is led by Superintendent James Grech.

After revoking the selection process, the Public Service Commission instructed the Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa to launch a new selection process.

Almost three months have since passed, and Gafa has not relaunched the selection process to fill the position of chief of the financial crimes department.

Angelo Gafa giving talk to FCID officers at completion of course on money laundering legislation (Source: Facebook)

The police’s media department did not reply to this website’s questions asking why a new selection process or calls for applications has not been launched, and when a selection process would be launched. There was no response to an email asking the same questions sent to Gafa either.

It is not known whether Mamo, or someone else, is currently performing the role of a chief in the financial crimes department, or whom the superintendents who lead the squads are reporting to. (Two media outlets reported a week ago that Mamo had resigned, but sources within the police told this website she has formally retired, or is retiring, not resigned. They said she has a right to retire after completing period of statutory service.) 

The department, which is responsible for crimes that include fraud and corruption, has been beset by losses – sources told this website several months ago that almost a fifth of its officers had resigned or retired – and criticism over the past year or so.

Blunders in prosecutions, public accusations or criticism of stalled investigations, and a heavy workload are heaping further pressure on the beleaguered financial crimes department.

No answer from Tabone over apparent conflict of role

Sources have told this website that Frank Tabone has been on longterm unpaid leave.

Tabone, as pointed out, was in charge of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terror Financing Squad within the FCID, and then ranked first in the selection process for new FCID chief that was eventually annulled by the Public Service Commission. 

After Tabone's departure, Superintendent Sandro Camilleri was appointed as a new chief of the Anti-Money Laundering and Terror Financing Squad.

Frank Tabone featured as an associate on website of Azzopardi Borg & Associates law firm

Tabone is now working as a lawyer serving private clients for the law firm Azzopardi Borg & Associates.

Sent questions by this website, Tabone did not deny that he remains on unpaid leave. He was asked whether there is a conflict between his current role as a lawyer and the fact that he technically remains (being on unpaid leave) a police officer.

Tabone did not reply to any of the questions.

Featured Image: Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa speaking during appointment of new police recruits last month. (Source: Facebook) 

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