Lying second-hand car dealer ordered to refund price or face prison

A 32 year-old man has been given a month to repay a €17,750 advance payment that he had received for importing a BMW which never materialised or face prison.

Inspector Yvonne Farrugia had charged Christian Saliba with misappropriating the payment he had received for the purchase of a vehicle from the UK.

Saliba had told the victim that he was planning on importing another vehicle for himself and had suggested that when the vehicles were ready to make the overland journey to Malta, he would meet the victim in the UK and drive up together.

After approving a car to be delivered, the victim had transferred the full price of €17,750 to a bank account belonging to the accused’s mother.

But after his questions regarding the delays in delivery were met with a series of excuses the buyer had gone to the accused's house, only to find that, far from being in the UK making arrangements, the accused was still in Malta.

He had been told that his car was in Sicily, but the buyer, suspecting it to be another one of the accused's yarns, had asked Saliba to sign a document binding him to either deliver the vehicle or return the payment in full . Saliba instead, asked to be allowed to repay the man in monthly instalments of €250, but the buyer had rejected this offer and filed a report with the police.

In handing down judgement, Magistrate Doreen Clarke took into account the fact that an immediate prison sentence would not help the victim get his money back and so handed down a two year prison sentence, suspended for four, adding the condition that failure to repay the full amount within a month would render it effective.