Unpaid Pjazza Teatru Rjal manager conditionally discharged for misappropriating ticket money

Some of the misappropriated money was allegedly used to pay an employee who had not received any wages for several months

Pjazza Teatru Rjal
Pjazza Teatru Rjal

The former general manager of open-air performance space Pjazza Teatru Rjal has been convicted of misappropriating thousands of euros from the Malta Council for Culture and the Arts, but conditionally discharged after the court was told that he had been owed months of salary arrears at the time.

Magistrate Josette Demicoli had been told how former MCAST lecturer Jason Masini, 44, from Mosta, had been seconded to PTR in July 2013 as general manager responsible for events, before being fired two years later on suspicion of misappropriation.

The court also heard how income from ticket sales had been transferred by the ticketing company into a personal account belonging to the accused.

In August 2014, Masini had been provided with a VAT number and instructed to deposit theatre funds in a designated account which was separate from his own.

But his superiors became suspicious after noting a number of odd transactions and had started an internal investigation.

In December 2014, a payment of €8,000 from the online ticketing agency had been deposited into Masini’s personal bank account, and withdrawn by the holder on the same day.

Another €1,000 was deposited in the same account later that month, followed in January 2015 by a third deposit of €10,373.

Masini had explained to the court that some of the money had been withdrawn to pay an employee who had not received any wages for several months – a fact borne out through documentary evidence presented to the court.

The court was also told Masini himself had not been paid for several months during his stint as PTR manager.

In her judgment, Magistrate Josette Demicoli, observed that although it was “certainly not right and just for a worker not to be paid his dues,” this was not the appropriate legal avenue to address his complaint.

The court ruled that Masini had rendered himself guilty of misappropriation, by misapplying Council funds for his personal use.

Taking into account the circumstances of the case, and the fact that Masini had returned all the funds before the start of the proceedings, the court handed Masini a two-year conditional discharge.

Inspector Anna Marie Xuereb prosecuted.

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