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Former VAT department prosecutor faces corruption charges
Prosecutor accused by subordinate of having forwarded him €100 bribe.
11 July 2012, 12:00am
There was an air of incredulity inside Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona's court room this morning, as Police charged the VAT Department official with corruption.
The man who led the VAT department prosecutions for the past 10 years, was charged with corrupting a subordinate within the department, by giving him €100 allegedly to allow a correction rather than an audit of a particular taxpayer he had sent for.
A visibly emotional Vince Vella, who works as a VAT inspector, told the court that the man - whom he had worked with for a number of years - had called him to his office and asked him about a taxpayer he [Vella] was investigating.
It turned out that Vella had called on a certain Mark Anthony Tabone to provide the sales ledgers relating to the first three quarters of 2010.
Following the letter to Tabone, Vella said he was called back to the man's office, who again spoke to him about the case.
Vella said that at one point, the accused allegedly handed him a Correction Letter from Mark Anthony Tabone, and a cheque - seemingly to correct the omissions in tax from the original submissions - and a €100 note.
According to Vella, the €100 note was on his desk, and he remarked 'this is for you'.
"I was shocked at seeing the banknote, I just took it and left his desk," the witness said, who added that after just five minutes, he returned to his office and returned the €100 and the Correction Letter. "I returned everything because I do not accept money for my work," Vella said.
Vella said that he was very worried, went home, spoke to his wife and returned to work the next morning and went straight to the VAT Commissioner to report what had happened.
But according to VAT department official's defence counsel, Vince Vella was the one who faced corruption allegations, and was even interrogated by the police for allegedly asking for bribes.
This was confirmed by Inspector Angelo Gafà from the Economic Crimes Unit, who is also prosecuting.
The court then heard Anthony Scicluna, a property dealer who had allegedly approached the accused , to inform him about what he had heard about a certain Vince Vella.
The witness said that he was in a bar in Birkirkara and overheard a discussion where some men said that who has a problem with VAT should look for a Vince Vella, pay €5,000 and have the case "arranged."
The witness said that he went to find the accused and tell him about what he heard because it was not fair that he had been prosecuted and repeatedly find over VAT and then employees would simply "arrange" cases.
The accused, had later told Vella he did not want him in his office anymore, warning what was going around about him.