VAT carousel fraud: defendants granted bail as €62 million case against them continues

Two charged over €62 million VAT fraud in April will be back in court next month, as the case against them continues

A businessman and one of his employees who were charged over €62 million VAT fraud in April will be back in court next month, as the case against them continues.

Martin Farrugia, 45, from Rabat and Henriette Cassar 49, are accused of fraud and money laundering in connection with a €62 million VAT carousel.

The offences are alleged to have taken place between 2012 and 2019 and involved NCCF, MAM Construction LTD and MWF Construction Ltd.

Farrugia, who is a registered builder and Cassar, a clerk working at Farrugia’s companies, both deny the charges.

In a decree handed down yesterday, magistrate Leonard Caruana granted Farrugia bail, secured by a €30,000 deposit and a €60,000 personal guarantee. His bail conditions also stipulate that he is to sign a bail book every day and observe a curfew, as well as hand over his passport and ID card to the court.

Farrugia’s release comes nearly 6 weeks after that of his co-accused, Cassar had been granted bail on 15 May, secured by a €10,000 deposit, as well as a €50,000 personal guarantee.

In previous sittings, the court had heard how the police Financial Crimes Investigation Department (FCID) had noted large discrepancies between the amounts being declared to the VAT department. The prosecution said that there had been €27 million in undeclared sales from one of the companies, with another €2.8 million undeclared from another company’s income.

A long list of other individuals and companies were involved or affected by the alleged fraud through payment for construction works and sales of machinery, the court was told, with some of the individuals and entities in question still being investigated.

It had also emerged during the sittings that Farrugia was a collector of big cats and exotic animals, owning 7 lions, 8 pumas, 2 leopards, 14 horses and a number of zebras which he housed in two rural properties in Siggiewi and Rabat.

The police had seized a staggering collection of luxury cars, which included a Ferrari, two Lamborghinis, two Porsches, a Maserati, three Mercedes and two Land Rovers, at the defendants’ properties. 

The case continues in July.

Lawyer Abigail Caruana Vella is prosecuting on behalf of the Office of the Attorney General, together with police Inspector Joseph Xerri.

Lawyers Franco Debono and Francesca Zarb are assisting Henriette Cassar, while lawyers Etienne Borg Ferranti and Dominic Micallef are defence counsel to Martin Farrugia.

Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi, Jacob Magri and Rebecca Mercieca are representing a group of alleged victims, with lawyer Stefano Filletti representing others.