Man cleared of defrauding couple over Romania property

The man had been accused of defrauding the couple out of €70,000 over a property deal

A court has dismissed fraud and misappropriation charges against a man over a property deal, after it observed that there was no fraudulent intent.

Ivan Farrugia, 48 from Naxxar, has been cleared of defrauding a couple out of €70,000 that he received as an administrator of a Romanian company.

Farrugia was declared not guilty of holding on to the sum of money instead of investing it in property for the couple.

Farrugia had been accused of fraud and misappropriation by the couple, who claimed to have been misled on the nature of the €70,000 investment they had passed on to the accused for property deals in Romania.

Before the money had changed hands, an agreement was signed between Valletta Glass RSL – a company registered in Romania- and the couple, whilst Farrugia appeared as an administrator. The agreement was signed on 25 January 2008 and was signed only by two of the company’s shareholders. The majority shareholder had not signed the document.

Prosecuting police inspector Anne Marie Xuereb told the court that the couple had filed a criminal complaint over the five year agreement.

They had said that Farrugia was a friend of theirs, who also worked in the property market. Farrugia had proposed the investment to develop a parcel of land belonging to building contractor Paul Said. The couple was interested and borrowed money from the bank to finance the purchase. They had asked to meet the directors and had met Paul Camilleri and Michael Micallef, both shareholders in Valletta Glass SRL, but majority shareholder Said was not present.

Inspector Xuereb told the court that 9 months after the contract was signed, the couple had asked for their money back, but were told that this was not possible as the agreement was for five years. After the lapse of the five years, the couple had asked for their investment to be returned with profits, but was told by Paul Said that they were not going to be paid because the director of Valletta Glass did not know about the couple’s investment. Camilleri and Micallef informed the couple that the money had never been deposited in the Romanian account.

In her judgment on the case, magistrate Monica Vella stated that the crime of fraud had a number of requisite elements, among them the presence of misleading actions.

The court noted that although Farrugia was the company administrator and despite the fact that he appeared to know that the majority shareholder did not want to do business with Maltese investors, it did not appear that he had exerted any pressure on the complainants to give him any money.

Magistrate Vella added that the accused lacked any fraudulent intent and had not converted the money into profit for himself or other persons.

The court also said that the issue was a civil one in nature and it had been proven that the alleged victim had passed on the money out of his own free will after being interested in investing it.

The court ruled that despite the fact that the accused was the administrator of Valletta Glass SRL and despite the fact that he appeared to know that Paul Said did not want any business with Maltese investors, it did not result that the accused had used a mise en scene to have the complainant pass him the money. There was no intent to defraud, said the court, adding that the matter was one of a civil nature. Not every dishonoured contractual obligation necessarily gives rise to the crime of misappropriation, ruled the court.

Lawyers Mario Mifsud, Charles Mercieca and Gianluca Caruana Curran appeared for Farrugia.

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