Goldcar’s Christian Borg illegally employed foreign nationals at car wash

Police sergeant warned after prevaricating on the witness stand

Christian Borg, 28, from Swieqi is one of the five men charged with kidnapping a man in a van
Christian Borg, 28, from Swieqi is one of the five men charged with kidnapping a man in a van

A fearful police sergeant had to be warned not to hold back information on the witness stand as suspected kidnapper, fraudster and associate of Prime Minister Robert Abela, Christian Borg, was back in court on Monday, when the case in which he is charged with illegally employing foreign workers as car-washers continued before magistrate Nadine Lia.

Borg, 28, and five other men are currently the subjects of separate criminal proceedings in which they stand charged with abducting, beating and threatening a man over a missing van. They are contesting the charges.

In today’s sitting, a JobsPlus representative testified to having accompanied the police on a December 2018 inspection of a garage owned by Goldcar, which was used to wash cars. Borg was a director of Goldcar at the time. The representative said he had found several workers from countries including India and Serbia working there. None of them had a work permit.

Lawyer Charles Mercieca, appearing for Borg in the sitting, cross-examined the witness, asking how the workers’ answers to the questions put to them had been recorded. The witness replied that they had been taken down in writing and not audiovisually. “I wasn’t alone, there were other people and police officers present,” he explained.

Police sergeant warned

Next to testify was a police sergeant who had accompanied the previous witness on the inspection.

She had noted “around 6” foreign nationals working at the car wash without a work permit. They were students, she said.

The witness went on to say that she had been stationed at the immigration department at the time, but had since been reassigned to the traffic department. “The director was Christian Borg,” she said, indicating the accused.

Under cross-examination, she explained that one of the workers had told her that he was employed by Borg, although she could not remember the man’s name.

“They don’t know the language and there were six of them. There were several people there and they all understood the name [Christian Borg],” she insisted.

Asked how she knew they were illegal immigrants, she rebutted the lawyer’s suggestion that she “assumed” it to be so, testifying that it was standard practise to ask workers for their papers and it was noted that they were supposed to be students.

“They all said that the company’s owner was Christian Borg,” she repeated.

Mercieca asked her how she knew Christian Borg was the owner. “Because he came to the scene.” “Not true!” Borg protested from the dock. The witness corrected herself, saying that he had been phoned at the scene.

The magistrate asked who had dealt with Borg, whilst she was dealing with the workers. “Someone from JobsPlus,” she said, explaining that there were 4 or 5 officials from the agency present at the time.

But the witness became visibly uncomfortable when the magistrate asked her what Borg had said to the police.

The witness insisted that she was there to handle the immigration aspect.

Magistrate Lia warned the sergeant that she would be declared a hostile witness if she continued to prevaricate. “It was 4 years ago and I don’t remember,” pleaded the policewoman from the dock.

Mercieca suggested that Borg had not gone to the scene.

“Whilst I was taking care of the immigrants’ documents, I was hearing things behind me, but I could not look away…” replied the witness. “Whilst I was checking the passports I heard the name ‘Christian Borg’ being mentioned. Two of the immigrants said ‘Boss, Borg, Christian Borg’”

“When we took them to Depot, the employer has to go there.” It might have been the case that she had seen Borg there, she told the court.

Asked directly if she had seen the accused at the depot, the witness became visibly uncomfortable and tried to sidestep the question.

After a lot of hesitation, the witness finally declared that she recognised the accused as having either been “on site… or at Depot… I don’t remember if I saw him there or at Depot, but I saw that face before.”

Mercieca objected, saying that the witness couldn’t not remember and remember at the same time. “It’s been 4 years. It gets confusing,” said the sergeant.

Jobsplus representatives outline investigation

Another JobsPlus representative testified, telling the court how a call had been received by Jobsplus on its hotline and an inspection was carried out at the Goldcar Car Wash in Luqa.

She had spoken to the 6 workers, she said, recalling that one of them, an Indian national, said he had come to Malta as a student and had told her that he “worked for Christian Borg.”

“He was working without a permit with Christian Borg…The administration confirmed it,” the witness continued. Asked by Inspector Buhagiar, she said she had not seen Borg at the scene, but the employees had indicated the accused as the owner.

Under cross-examination, the witness confirmed that she had relied on the information given to her by people present at the scene and had not made further checks on the identity of the accused.

A third representative from the JobsPlus agency then took the stand, and was asked to provide information the agency had about the workers at the car wash.

The witness said that he had not found any record of the names of the people allegedly found during the inspection, on the JobsPlus database. He also presented the court with a copy of Christian Borg’s employment history.

As the sitting drew to a close, Mercieca submitted that there were “doubts” that Borg was the proper defendant. He requested a representative of the Malta Business Registry to testify about this in the next sitting.

The case continues in May.