A man accused of misappropriating €2,500 entrusted to him for the payment of registration tax on an imported vehicle was cleared of the charges after the criminal complaint was withdrawn by the victim.

Francis Caruana, 62, from Qawra, had been charged with fraud and misappropriation, as well as with having violated the conditions of three previous suspended sentences. The man was further accused of having breached a probation order and with being a relapser.

The court, presided over by magistrate Josette Demicoli, heard how criminal investigations against the man began following a complaint filed by Lawrence Cassar in 2011.

The alleged victim and his brother, who were partners in a business venture, had imported a delivery van from the U.K. and had entrusted the accused with the task of effecting its registration with Transport Malta.

After handing over a cheque for €2,500 together with the vehicle logbook and other necessary documents, Mr Cassar realised that the vehicle had never been registered. 

Police investigations revealed that Mr Caruana had cashed the cheque on the same day that it was entrusted to him, but never concluded the registration with Transport Malta as agreed.

During the hearing of the case, the victim of the alleged swindle had notified the court that since the accused had fully reimbursed him for the misappropriated funds, he was formally withdrawing the complaint.

Although this meant that prosecution for misappropriation was to be halted, the Attorney General insisted that since the charged offence was an aggravated one the proceedings were to continue. It was argued that the money had been handed over to the accused in the ordinary course of business and this made the alleged wrongdoing an aggravated offence.

However, on the basis of the evidence put forward, the court ruled out such aggravation pointing out that "all that emerges is that the accused received money to register the vehicle with TM, whether or not this was done by the accused in some particular role does not.”

In view of the withdrawal of the criminal complaint, the court could take no further cognisance of the matter.

Lawyers Edward Gatt and Veronique Dalli were defence counsel.

Independent journalism costs money. Support Times of Malta for the price of a coffee.

Support Us