Four punished after admitting to participation in mass insurance fraud

Punishments meted out range from probation to nearly two years imprisonment.

Four of the 22 persons who had been charged in January with participating in an insurance fraud racket have been sentenced after admitting to the charges.

The punishments meted out range from probation to nearly two years imprisonment.

The first, 35 year-old Ivan De Giovanni was handed a 20 month prison sentence, suspended for two years, after he admitted to defrauding some €3000 from Atlas Insurance in July, August and October. Prosecuting police inspectors Rennie Stivala and Arthur Mercieca had informed Magistrate Aaron Bugeja that De Giovanni had fully cooperated with the police investigation and had a clean police conduct.

Defence lawyer Joe Giglio had argued that De Giovanni had admitted wrongdoing and had repaid all sums which he had received, as well as having declared that he was prepared to testify against third parties. However, the insurance companies pointed out that De Giovanni’s three separate cases had been premeditated and had led to “enormous damages” to the insurers.

In addition to the suspended sentence, De Giovanni was placed under a supervision order and ordered to complete 300 hours of community service.

Charmaine De Giovanni, 23, also pleaded guilty to defrauding Untours Insurance Company €3,500 in August 2013. An insurance company representative confirmed that she, too, had refunded the money. After taking into consideration the woman’s clean criminal record and her collaboration with the investigation, she was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment suspended for a year and ordered to perform 100 hours of community work. She was also placed under a supervision order for a year. Lawyer Joe Giglio was also De Giovanni’s defence counsel.

Joseph Sultana, 38 also from Qormi was also handed a suspended sentence for defrauding €1100 from Untours. Sultana had been the first of the 22 accused to admit to the charges. After hearing a company representative testify that the amount had been repaid, the court handed Sultana a nine-month sentence, suspended for one year. He was also ordered to complete 60 hours of community service.

Chris Vassallo, 22, from Qormi, was placed on probation and ordered to carry out 40 hours of community work after he admitted to defrauding Untours Insurance Brokers out of over €5,000, making a false declaration and causing damage to claim insurance money. The court noted that Vassallo had a clean police record and had cooperated fully with the police. It held that the incident had been a one-off , observing that the accused had been pressured into committing the offence by his father. Lawyers Arthur Azzopardi and Keith Borg appeared for Vassallo.

22 persons had been accused in January of participating in the mass insurance fraud. Of these, 4 had pleaded not guilty, 2 had admitted outright, one was not traced, one had failed to show up and 12 cases were put off to a later date in order to allow possible out-of-court settlements to be finalised.

Atlas, Untours, Elmo, Gasan Mamo, Allcare, Citadel, Fogg (now Argus) and Middlesea Insurance are alleged to have been the victims of the fraud.