Updated | Recruitment agency ‘ordered to shred contracts’ signed by Filipino employees at Mr Clean

Father and his three children released from custody against a personal guarantee of €20,000 and a €10,000 deposit

Employees of Maltese Falcon Recruitment Services, a company which shares its ownership with Mr Clean, have told a court that they were ordered to shred contracts which had been signed by workers in the Philippines before they travelled to Malta.

The case involving the directors of Mr Clean – a father and his three children – on trial in relation to trafficking charges continued in court today.

The case, which is reminiscent of the ongoing Leisure Clothing saga, revolves around Filipino workers who signed contracts before leaving the Philipines.

One of several witnesses to testify today was Eileen Estaban, human resources manager at Maltese Falcon Recruitment Services 

Estaban, who reports to Paul and Joseph Degiorgio, said that last week, she had been asked to shred a number of contracts in the office, and specified that employees were asked to shred contracts which had been signed in the Philippines - those contracts passed on to the prospective employees by the agencies which recruited them.

The witness intially said that she could not confirm whether employees were then asked to sign another contract in Malta, however, but said that "there were a lot of other contracts in the office." She later testified to being aware that workers were asked to sign another contract once here.

The witness said she had been asked by the accused to send a declaration to the Filipino agents, stipulating that the company will not cover the air fare and nor would it provide free food. Asked whether the employees sign these declarations, she said she personally never received the filled-in forms and so could not say

Sometimes the agents would come to the office to speak with Mr Degiorgio, she said. She also received payments from the agents, usually the €500 down payment per applicant. As for other fees, “I have not received them personally but there is supposed to be more payments of around €1,000, for the processing of applications”.

Asked if Joseph Degiorgio would threaten his employees, she replied that at times he would shout at them when they would do something that harmed the company. “There are some employees who do wrong to the company and sometimes, when angry, would say that they have to surrender the ID card or something similar otherwise they would be deported”.

The witness also confirmed that Josianne Degiorgio was not involved in the recruitment process.

Earlier today, the directors and senior management of cleaning company Mr. Clean have been released from custody against a €10,000 deposit and a personal guarantee of €20,000.

Pensioner Joseph Degiorgio 71 from Balzan, Company Director Paul Degiorgio 47, from Lija, Christopher Degiorgio, 42 from Naxxar and Joseph Degiorgio's daughter Josianne Bugeja Degiorgio, 34 from Balzan spent four days in prison.

Read more: Mr Clean directors remanded in custody on human trafficking charges

They were arraigned in court last Thursday on charges of human trafficking.

In addition to the human trafficking charges, the Degiorgios are also accused of incorporating or financing a criminal organisation, forming part of that organisation and misappropriation. They are pleading not guilty.

This morning the men were released on bail against a deposit of €10,000 and a personal guarantee of €20,000, whilst Josianne Bugeja Degiorgio was granted bail against a €5,000 and a guarantee of €15,000 because she was a non-executive director.

Magistrate Consuelo Scerri Herrera was annoyed to find none of the accused in the courtroom this morning, describing as “unacceptable” the failure by prosecutors to have all the directors in her courtroom on time.

This morning's sitting was delayed by an hour while the defendants were transported to court. The court condemned the Director of Prisons for not bringing the accused on time, and requested him to give an explanation for the delay at the next sitting.

Lawyer Joe Giglio appeared for Josianne Bugeja. Lawyers Franco Debono, Marion Camilleri, and Amadeus Cachia are defence counsel to the other accused. Lara Dimitrijevic and Ann Marie Bisazza are appearing parte civile for the injured parties.

Prosecuting police inspectors Joseph Busuttil and John Spiteri prosecuted.