Administrator charged with defrauding employer out of €500,000 using blank cheques

Charges include fraud, misappropriation, misuse of blank signed cheques, and money laundering

A part-time executive secretary has been remanded in custody after she was charged with defrauding her employer out of over €500,000 over a 6 year period.

Josephine Baldachhino, 48, from Mosta was accused of fraud, misappropriation, falsifying documents, misuse of blank signed cheques. She was also accused of money laundering.

Baldacchino’s lawyer, Roberto Montalto entered a plea of not guilty and requested bail.

This was objected to by prosecuting Inspector George Frendo and lawyer Francesco Refalo from the Office of the Attorney General. ““We have a trusted person in a company, who she defrauded out of over €500,000. The charges are very serious and include money laundering, falsifying a document to facilitate this misappropriation. She did this over the span of 6 years. Beyond this there is the risk of her tampering with evidence and approaching witnesses, who she knows and worked with. If she is given bail at this stage, we have a real fear that investigations will be affected,” said Frendo.

Montalto argued that the investigation had started following a Suspicious Transaction Report, filed by the parte civile. The parties had been engaged in judicial proceedings for the liquidation of damages since May and precautionary warrants had been filed, said the lawyer. “The only contact between the parties was through the lawyers since then.”

Moreover, he said, there was no complex system of concealment typically used in money laundering cases. “There are no structures, complicity or other people involved,” he said. “We have one chequebook, one payee and one person.”

Finally, the woman was the mother of a severely autistic child who needed her around, Montalto added, as the accused became visibly emotional.

The prosecution objected to bail, amongst other reasons, due to fear of her tampering with evidence.

Montalto asked what changed with regards to the risk of suborning witnesses after being charged as opposed to when being investigated. “You are using the argument wrongly. When it was possible to approach potential witnesses she didn’t and now that she cannot, you object to bail?”

The court, however, disagreed and denied bail until the alleged victim testifies.

A freezing order was issued over all the woman’s assets.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Matthew Brincat appeared for the parte civile Marius Muscat.