Updated 2pm

Hire-purchase business No Deposit Cars Malta has accused a lawyer representing disgruntled clients of theirs of “double standards”, in a social media video that includes personal customer information.   

In a video posted to Facebook at 6am on Saturday, the company singled out three of its clients who are amongst a group of 26 calling for an investigation into the business for tax evasion and fraud. 

The company named one customer it said had failed to keep up to date with his repayments and included his photo, named another who it said had “wrecked” a Peugeot 208, and published details of traffic fines incurred by a third named customer, along with an ID card number and number plate.

A screengrab from the video with personal details obscured. The original showed a customer's name, ID card number, number plate and fines accrued.A screengrab from the video with personal details obscured. The original showed a customer's name, ID card number, number plate and fines accrued.

Video 'amended'

By 11.40am, the video was no longer publicly available on the company's Facebook page.  

It was a replaced by an amended version roughly one hour later. The revised version did not include the first client's photo and also obscured the ID card number listed included along with the list of fines. Clients' names were kept in the video. 

No Deposit Cars Malta director Joseph Camenzuli told Times of Malta that the ID card number shown in the original video belonged to the business’ owner, Christian Borg, not the client it singled out.

Camenzuli said the company would "never" disclose the personal information of its clients.

Its video ostensibly targeted lawyer Jason Azzopardi, who is representing the customers accusing the company of fraud. Azzopardi, the company said, had “his own personal interests at place [sic].” 

On Thursday, Azzopardi filed a judicial protest against No Deposit Cars Malta, its parent company Princess Holdings and the company’s owner Christian Borg, requesting a police investigation into the company’s activities and for their contracts to be rescinded. He was acting on behalf of 26 of the company's clients.

The video named a customer who reported 'wreked' this car. Personal details have been obscured.The video named a customer who reported 'wreked' this car. Personal details have been obscured.

Azzopardi: 'Fraudsters have breached GDPR'

Azzopardi responded to the video by dismissing what he described as "con men, fraudsters and alleged money launderers."

“This bullying and intimidation strengthens my resolve to carry on doing my duty to the best of my abilities on behalf of whoever asks me to help them in their legal problems. Frankly, I see it as a sign of panic,” he said.  

“Moreover, what these fraudsters have done this morning is a flagrant breach of privacy in terms of the GDPR [General Data Protection Directive],” he continued.   

“The fact that someone has put their name on a judicial act doesn’t mean anyone has the right to publish additional details unless there’s a manifest public interest to do so. It further shows the blatant disregard they have for the law, emboldened by the impunity they have enjoyed courtesy of you know who,” Azzopardi concluded.  

Second video in a week

The video is the second the company released in the last week. The first defended the company’s use of GPS tracking devices in cars and invited customers to attend the car showroom on Friday to address any concerns to director Joseph Camenzuli.  

The story first emerged when Times of Malta reported that the hire-purchase company makes customers sign contracts accepting that their car may have a GPS tracking device installed. 

That revelation prompted condemnation from the data protection commissioner, who said data tracking clauses in contracts issued by No Deposit Cars were “absolutely abnormal... not acceptable... [and] very invasive”, and a request for the consumer affairs authority to investigate the company.

Other customer concerns revolving around insurance documentation and repossession were also raised in the piece published last month. 

Attempts by Times of Malta to reach out to customers singled out in the video were unsuccessful. 

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