Tax chief flew to Las Vegas with abduction gang boys

Christian Borg was summoned for tax audit two months before Las Vegas trip over company which today has €22 million in accumulated losses, despite flaunting wealth and luxury cars

The former Commissioner of Revenue, Marvin Gaerty, flew to Las Vegas in 2018 together with two of the men who stand charged with the abduction and assault of a man in Rabat.

Gaerty, who stepped down from his powerful role at the end of January, flew in October 2018 with Christian Borg and Tyson Grech, to watch the historic clash between MMA fighters Khabib Nurmagomedov and Conor McGregor in Las Vegas.

Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg at the lucrative Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas (Photo: Facebook)
Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg at the lucrative Caesars Palace hotel in Las Vegas (Photo: Facebook)

But the holiday came just under two months after Borg, 28, was summoned by the Tax Compliance Unit for an audit of his company Princess Holdings.

At that time, Borg and Grech, were running their car rental business and dealership, but had not yet submitted a single set of their annual accounts for Princess Holdings and No Deposit Cars.

Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg (Photo:Facebook)
Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg (Photo:Facebook)

As the accounts filed in January 2022 show, Princess Holdings amassed €22 million in accumulated losses, despite Borg and Grech, 26, flaunting their wealth on social media with snaps of their holidays and supercars. Now they stand accused of having abducted a man whom they threatened to have his fingers cut.

MaltaToday has established that Borg, Grech and Gaerty all travelled together from Malta to Las Vegas in October 2018.The three tickets were booked together on the same reservation. The three men were seated next to each other on the Air Malta flight from Malta to Frankfurt on 3 October.

According to a social media photo posted by Tyson Grech at the time, he snapped a photo of the Skyscanner website with a pending selection for the flights Malta-Frankfurt-Las Vegas and back – priced at £3,645 individually but at a total of £10,934, or for three tickets. A return ticket was booked for return on the 8 October. The Nurmagomedov-McGregor fight took place on 7 October, at 4am.

A screengrab uploaded on social media by Tyson Grech showing a provisional booking for flights to Las Vegas (Photo:Facebook)
A screengrab uploaded on social media by Tyson Grech showing a provisional booking for flights to Las Vegas (Photo:Facebook)

Another photo by Tyson Grech on social media, shows Borg and him standing next to a Bentley they hired during their holiday. The same car appears in a drone photo snapped by Grech and Borg, seated in the back seat of the Bentley, with Gaerty at the wheel. The social media photo is tagged with the date 5 October 2018.

Then on 7 October 2018, Tyson Grech is snapped next to the same Bentley Continental, outside the MGM Grand, right before the Nurmagomedov-McGregor fight.

Tyson Grech with a Bentley in Las Vegas in October 2018 (Photo:Facebook)
Tyson Grech with a Bentley in Las Vegas in October 2018 (Photo:Facebook)

In comments to MaltaToday, Gaerty said he had paid for the trip, event and accommodation for the MMA event “along with a group of Maltese people who attended this event”. Having met Borg at a boxing event, Gaerty however denied having a close friendship with Christian Borg.

“I know Christian Borg as I know many other people, including people in business. I know many people but my decisions were never compromised in any way, as I always stated publicly. I always keep separate my personal life from my work and treat everyone the same when it comes to taking decisions. I have always acted strictly in accordance with the law and department policy and procedures,” Gaerty told this newspaper.

Gaerty was also asked whether he saw it fit to investigate the tax affairs of Borg, given that up until December 2021 the accounts for Princess Holdings had never been filed. Now they are shown to have accumulated €22 million in losses.

“As you know I cannot provide any tax information due to confidentiality. I can state that the department always took full action in cases where taxpayers are not compliant with the law. In fact it is always up to the Tax Compliance department to initiate tax investigations, that is, to decide who to audit. I never get involved as to who they decide to audit – there is a special unit which decides who to audit,” Gaerty told MaltaToday.

Gaerty also said that as Commissioner for Revenue, it did not mean that he got involved or influenced the decisions taken by separate units within the department. “Those decisions are left entirely to the directors of the specific units. In fact, before I was appointed Commissioner there was a procedure whereby the Commissioner used to approve cases for investigations carried out by providing a delegation. I immediately removed this procedure when I was appointed and left such decisions entirely in the hands of the unit head.”

Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg in Las Vegas (Photo: Facebook)
Tyson Grech (left) and Christian Borg in Las Vegas (Photo: Facebook)

Gaerty stepped down in January after nearly 10 years in office, and was replaced by Joseph Caruana, the permanent secretary at Ian Borg’s transport ministry.

Gaerty took up an advisory role on fiscal policy matters within the finance ministry.

Shortcomings in the way tax crimes are uncovered were highlighted as one of the leading reasons Malta was last year placed on the so-called greylist of untrustworthy financial jurisdictions by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Gaerty had already been in the headlines in the past, questioned by the police in 2020 as part of an investigation into trading in influence involving Yorgen Fenech, who stands accused of conspiring to murder Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. An investigation into a 2014 message exchange between Gaerty and Fenech was closed with no charges brought. 

Princess Holdings 

The startling aspect of Christian Borg’s Princess Holdings, one of his main companies, is how it amassed €22 million in accumulated losses between 2016 and 2020.The accounts seen by MaltaToday show an adverse audit opinion for a company which is entirely supported by Borg, as shareholder, and where assets are funded mainly by creditors.

Since 2016, revenue climbed from just €10,000 to €988,000 in 2019, and then €254,000 in 2020.

But the company’s expenses, its cost of sales, climb from €2.9 million in 2017 to €7.2 million in 2020.The Princess Holdings accounts, filed only with the regulator at the beginning of January 2022, reveal a company backed by interest-free loans from its shareholder – €3.6 million – and €26 million from creditors.

Christian Borg (Photo:Facebook)
Christian Borg (Photo:Facebook)

The accounts show that the company’s assets generate little revenue, and that if creditors call in what they are owed, there will be little to liquidate to pay them back. The accounts also suggest that the company operates without a bank account, resulting negative equity with losses year by year.

In the meantime, Princess Holdings seems to have booked €4 million in receivable VAT for 2020, over and above €2.7 million in 2019, €1.4 million in 2018, and €695,000 in 2017.

Borg is also sole shareholder in Princess Construction, which has €11 million in property acquisitions, according to its accounts.

His other company No Deposit Cars Malta is also backed by shareholders loans of €8.8 million in 2020, with some €10.8 million in second-hand vehicles registered as inventory. 

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