Witnesses paint ‘provocative’ picture of GRTU director Vince Farrugia

Witnesses tell court that GRTU director-general Vince Farrugia had the ‘habit’ of provoking people who questioned his actions.

GRTU boss Vince Farrugia: witnesses say he has a habit of shouting, poking his fingers into their face and being aggressive towards them
GRTU boss Vince Farrugia: witnesses say he has a habit of shouting, poking his fingers into their face and being aggressive towards them

A former Nationalist minister described Vince Farrugia, the director of the Chamber of SMEs (GRTU) as having been "regularly provocative and hostile" towards Sandro Chetcuti, who is charged before a court of law of having caused grievous bodily harm on Farrugia in an assault at the GRTU offices back in 2010.

Michael Falzon took the witness stand in the criminal court, as the president of the Malta Developers' Association, whose vice-president is contractor Sandro Chetcuti, formerly a vice-president of the GRTU.

Falzon told the court that he met Chetcuti on the day of the incident, and found him in an "agitated state of mind", who told him that he was on the way to file a police report after his argument with Farrugia.

Chetcuti is accused of having assaulted Farrugia during the incident, but original charges of attempted murder were withdrawn by the Attorney General and downgraded.

Falzon told the court that Farrugia had already shown himself to be a provocative character in his attitude towards Chetcuti. "Sometime after the incident, I accompanied Chetcuti to a presentation organised by the finance minister, where Farrugia was attending as the GRTU representative. When Farrugia saw us, he approached Chetcuti and started poking him in the chest."

According to Falzon, the behaviour displayed by Farrugia was "the same provocation Chetcuti had endured and later led him to lose his cool and hit Farrugia".

Another witness, police inspector Sandro Saliba from the Valletta police station, said that the accused immediately reported the incident, and also said that he had been provoked by Farrugia. "Chetcuti appeared agitated and remorseful for his actions," Saliba said.

Another witness, former GRTU treasurer Mark Saliba, testified before the court that Farrugia had been very hostile towards him after having in 2010 initiated a financial review of the organisation. According to the witness, he faced resistance when he confronted Farrugia with questions regarding the GRTU's finances. "I had in fact submitted my resignation, but Farrugia rejected the letter, and assured me that everything was going to be ok," Saliba said.

Saliba said that he had suggested an auditor to review GRTU's finances, but that suggestion had in fact opened the gates to an argument, with Farrugia blowing his top, shouting and pointing his fingers into his face. "Farrugia attempted to belittle me, tell me that I was a nobody, and that I had no right to be involved in the association's accounts. He told me to just sign the cheques, and not even look at them," Saliba said, adding that Farrugia then slammed his fists on the table and left the office in a fury.

Saliba explained that he had spoken to GRTU's vice president Paul Abela, stressing that Farrugia's behaviour was unacceptable. In subsequent meetings, Farrugia simply ignored Saliba was even present, the witness claimed.

The witness went on to explain that some time before Christmas 2010, a member had called him to ask about a cheque, and when as treasurer he had made enquires, he discovered that a new bank account had been opened without ever being informed.

Another witness was former GRTU vice-president Joseph Tabone, a representative on the Malta Trade Fairs Corporation board in which GRTU had a private interest.

Tabone told the court that Farrugia had refused to take questions put to him by the MTFC board when the Naxxar trade fairs corporation was wound up, but instead of donating the monies to charity, they were split up between the MTFC's shareholders.

"There were many questions raised and doubts from the exhibitors - during one particular meeting he threw a tantrum, started to shout and refused to answer questions put to him by the board and members. He started to point his fingers at our face and acting aggressively."

Paul Abela ghandu l-permess tal-GRTU biex jghid dak li qed jghid físimha?
Very bad tempered man and we were going to send him to Europe. What a dis-----r it would have been.
Was Mr. Farrugia 'screened' by the PN before they accepted him as their candidate for the MEP elections? Or did they just take his word for it?
That photo tells a thousand words, and in my view certainly unflattering. "and GRTU had benefited from quite a sum", this certainly needs explaining. "He told me to just sign the cheques, and not even look at them," Saliba said. Unbelievable statement coming supposedly from the head of a business organisation. So much for financial control!!!
Censu Farrugia was ever so arrogant. No wonder he finally found his natural habitat within the GonziPN herd.