Construction magnate Nazzareno Vassallo accused of perjury

Construction magnate denies charges of perjury, falsifying documents and giving a false affidavit

Construction magnate says charges are ‘fabricated’
Construction magnate says charges are ‘fabricated’

Construction magnate and long-time PN benefactor Nazzareno Vassallo was yesterday charged in the criminal court of committing perjury, exhibiting forged minutes of meetings, and of giving a false affidavit – claims which if proven by the prosecution could see Vassallo end in jail or perpetual interdiction.

Insisting that this is “just the tip of the iceberg,” lawyer Arthur Azzopardi, who is representing Avantgarde Limited owner Joseph Vella in parte civile, explained that the anomalies in evidence and exhibited court documents first came to light during a civil suit calling on Vassallo to pay €208,000 plus interest in damages to his client.

Speaking to MaltaToday, Vassallo initially declined to give comments about the charges brought against him, claiming that comments will be given in due time. Moments later, he however said that the charges are “fabricated and untrue.”

“The allegations are absolutely untrue. From a file containing three inches of pages, this man [Vella] is alleging that one paper is missing from the archives,” he said.

Testifying before Magistrate Carol Peralta yesterday, Joseph Vella, owner of Avantgarde Limited recounted that in 2005, then CareMalta CEO Alex Tranter set up a meeting between Vella and Vassallo. The two subsequently agreed that Vella would install 60 bathrooms, and to supply bathroom tiles at Vassallo’s Prince of Wales home for the elderly in Sliema.

“At a meeting held in September 2005, I myself, Tranter, Vassallo and other CareMalta officials, had agreed that works would start on October 4. All this was recorded in the minutes of the meeting,” Vella told the court yesterday.

However, due to delays in construction works, the installation of the bathrooms was delayed and citing “unsatisfactory” work, Vassallo terminated the contract, resulting in Vella incurring €208,000 (Lm90,000) in losses.

This saw Vella file a civil suit against Vassallo, in which Vassallo allegedly exhibited false documents in court. Disputes arose as to when Vella and Vassallo had agreed to start work, with the former reiterating that they had agreed to start work on October 4, 2005, and the latter claiming that he was never in possession of these minutes of the meeting.

According to Joseph Vella, minute 1175 – which recorded the meeting of October 3, 2005 – states that the date that he was due to start work, but when this minute was filed by Zaren Vassallo during civil proceedings, it was tainted with anomalies.

“When minute 1175 was presented by Zaren Vassallo during civil proceedings, it contained everything except the date when Joseph Vella was due to start work was missing.”

“When Vassallo’s defence presented minute 1175 for the second time round, the text of another minute replaced the text. The difference was very prevalent as it contained the same grammatical errors, and the same font was used.”

Subsequently in 2012, Joseph Vella complained to the police that documents and copies of minutes Vassallo exhibited in court were fraudulent and tampered with.  The police investigated the claim and Vassallo was charged with committing perjury during civil proceedings, exhibiting evidence in court knowing it was forged, giving false evidence in an affidavit which he knew would be exhibited in court and giving false evidence to a judge or magistrate during court proceedings.

 “Vassallo denied being in possession of these minutes, but in truth he had filed them before the civil court,” Azzopardi told the court.

“Moreover, he had claimed that the minutes presented by Joseph Vella were not original but tampered with, but this claim was quashed by Zaren Vassallo’s own architect, Ivan Pace, who corroborated Vella’s version and testified that the minutes exhibited by Vella were in fact the correct ones,” Azzopardi said.

During the court sitting, Vella explained to Magistrate Peralta the discrepancies in a number of documents. Exhibiting a three-inch thick file of documents, Vella gave details of what Vassallo had allegedly changed or omitted from the documents. He also said that when minutes were amended new copies were also disseminated to over-read the previous ones. However in this case there were no amendments but simply a minute was taken out from the documents Vassallo exhibited in the civil suit.

Inspector Ian Abdilla is prosecuting.

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