Fuel racket partners alleged fraud against each other

Both criminal and civil proceedings for frauf were filed between fuel smuggling partners Gordon and Darren Debono 

Fuel smuggling partners Gordon Debono and Darren Debono, both arrested on suspicion of running a contraband fuel racket between Libya and Malta, had not always been on good terms. Both criminal and civil proceedings for fraud were filed between the two businessmen.

In 2013 Gordon’s company Eleven Eighty Eight had issued a garnishee order against Darren Debono in his own name and as representative of Maltese company ADJ Swordfish Limited over a cigarette consignment. This did not wash with the court, which ruled that it was meant to pressure Darren Debono into accepting credit terms.

Debono contested it via a court case, which the company did not respond to.

Deciding the case, the Civil Court said the request for the revocation of the garnishee was apparently well-founded. “It emerges clearly that the contractual relationship that led to the issuing of the warrant was not made with Darren Debono or with ADJ Swordfish Limited but with the latter company as a mandatory of the foreign company Tiuboda Oil Services Ltd.”

Tiuboda is the Libyan company owned by arrested smuggling kingpin Fahmi Slim Ben Khalifa, the former business partner of Darren Debono.

A precautionary warrant is intended to protect a possible credit, pending a favourable decision towards the creditor. But the court said it cannot be used to put undue pressure to force a debtor “to accept terms of a creditor when this is not yet made official by a court decision.”

So the court ordered Eleven Eight Eight Limited to pay €1,164.69 to Darren Debono and another fine of the same amount to his company ADJ Swordfish Limited. 

A criminal case followed after in July 2017, Darren Debono was unsuccessfully charged with having defrauded Gordon Debono and Eleven Eighty Eight Limited back in January 2013 – a case that could only have been filed after a criminal complaint by Gordon Debono.

In that case, magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona ruled that for guilt to be found, proof was needed of deception that led to the enrichment of the accused at the expense of someone else; or alternatively that the accused unjustly enriched himself at the expense of someone else.

ADJ Swordfish, on behalf of Tiuboda, had entered into an agreement with Eleven Eighty Eight Limited on the purchase and sale of a consignment of Marlboro cigarettes for the total price of €315,000. The Libyan purchaser paid for it in two tranches – €185,000 on 16 Jan 2013 and €130,000 a week later on 30 January.

“It appears that the prosecution is resting on the fact that a representative of Banif Bank testified that on 25 January 2013, the cheque had not cleared due to insufficient funds in the relevant account,” Magistrate Antonio Trigona observed.

The witness was unable to exhibit the original cheque which had been referred to drawer and returned to APS bank, and as the court noted, “leaving the allegation which had no supporting evidence, and rather, contradicted by other evidence.”

“Irrespective of this, from the evidence it is clear that fraud absolutely does not subsist in any of its constitutive elements and neither the deception as an element of the alternative charge of innominate fraud and this not even remotely from the testimony of the plaintiff.” 

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