200 witnesses testify in social security misappropriation sitting

Around 200 witnesses were summoned to testify in a criminal case, concering Salamander Cleaning Services and the misappropriation of social security contributions

matthew_agius
Matthew Agius
20 September 2017, 3:19pm
Anthony Ellul, stands charged with failing to pay his 463 employees' social security contributions over a period of 8 years
Anthony Ellul, stands charged with failing to pay his 463 employees' social security contributions over a period of 8 years
The Law Courts in Valletta were swamped this morning, after around 200 persons were summoned to testify in a criminal case, over the misappropriation of social security contributions.

The cohort of witnesses had all been employed by Salamander Cleaning Services, whose managing director, Anthony Ellul, stands charged with failing to pay his 463 employees' social security contributions over a period of 8 years, between 1999 and 2007.

Ellul had been found guilty by the court of Magistrates in 2014, of having failed to pay his employees' social security, for which he was fined €200 and an additional €4 for every day in each individual case until the case's conclusion and the payment of the sums due. Estimates put this figure, including fines and interest, at around 1.3 million.

The case is now at the appeals stage, being heard before judge Antonio Mizzi.

It emerged that the misappropriation had been committed by the company's human resources manager, Joe Falzon, who had pleaded guilty in separate proceedings and fined Lm10,000.

In most cases, Falzon registered employees as working on a part-time basis and therefore with a lower social security tax bill, whereas in reality they were working full time, which carries with it the obligation of paying the full social security amount.

In the Ellul case, the court of Magistrates had relied on Falzon's records, but after it was established that his records could not be trusted, the Social Security Department had no other means to verify the amounts. Judge Antonio Mizzi now faces the Sisyphean task of painstakingly hearing every individual employed by Salamander Cleaning Service's between 1999 and 2007, to establish which cases require the payment of social security and which do not.

200 people were heard in today's sitting, the third of the case before the court of appeal. In the previous two sittings, the court heard 20 and 40 witnesses testify, respectively. The court is yet to hear another 263 employees testify.

Lawyer Arthur Azzopardi is appearing for the appellant, Anthony Ellul.

matthew_agius
Court reporter Matthew Agius is a Legal Procurator and Commissioner for Oaths. Prior to re...