Sicilian company director charged with defrauding construction companies

The court said it was denying bail in view of the way Italian justice system applied the law and which permitted a person to abscond and evade justice under Maltese law

The court said that when suspects were granted bail and allowed to travel back to Italy they could ask for the case to be heard in Italy generally resulting in the case 'falling through the cracks'
The court said that when suspects were granted bail and allowed to travel back to Italy they could ask for the case to be heard in Italy generally resulting in the case 'falling through the cracks'

A Sicilian businessman has been remanded in custody after being charged with defrauding two local construction companies.

Angelo Di Stefano, 32, from Catania, the director of Prisma Group s.r.l. was arraigned under arrest before magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech this morning, charged with six counts of fraud and misappropriation to the detriment of Elbros Construction Ltd and AM Developments Ltd. 

Inspector Yvonne Farrugia told the court that the two companies had been cheated out of around €20,000 and €13,000 respectively.

During the sitting, it was alleged that the man would come to Malta from Sicily, propose sales and then disappear with the money.

Di Stefano’s lawyer, Joe Brincat argued that the man was willing to pay the companies back. A not guilty plea was filed and bail was requested.

The man was a Sicilian and therefore there was no difficulty in controlling his movements as Italy was part of the EU, began the lawyer in his submissions on bail but he was interrupted by the court, which argued that there were, in fact “big difficulties.”

Sicilian suspects would return to Italy and ask that the case be heard there under a peculiar provision of Italian law, said the court. The case would then generally fall through for procedural reasons and the rug would be pulled out from under the feet of Maltese justice.

Inspector Farrugia also informed the court that the man had no fixed residence in Malta and that there were a number of witnesses who were yet to testify. “He has no ties to Malta or family here. He’s coming and going, but has nothing here. The prosecution fears that other parties may also wish to come forward as the case progresses.”

The court denied bail in view of the accused’s lack of ties to the island and because of the fact that there are still witnesses to testify. It said it was also denying bail “in view of the way the Italian authorities are applying the article under the Italian penal code which permits that a person be judged by that country and renders it easy for him to abscond and evade justice under Maltese law, as well as the grave nature of the charges and the punishment they carry.”

Lawyer Joe Giglio appeared as parte civile for the Maltese companies.

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