An alleged fraudster involved in a €270,000 counterfeit currency deal was remanded in custody on Friday, after he was tracked down in Finland and brought to Malta to face justice.
Brindo Jovanovic, a 24-year old Frenchman, was targeted in an intensive police investigation that kicked off in September of 2019, when a local jeweller, party to a gold transaction, realised that he had been paid in counterfeit banknotes.
Inspectors Shaun Friggieri and Colin Sheldon, who handled the investigations, explained in court how the victim had met the ‘client’ at some premises and the deal was struck. However, once the gold was handed over, the alleged fraudster duped his victim by presenting €270,000 in counterfeit currency.
By some sleight of hand, a wad of genuine cash was used to deceive the vendor, while the fake notes were slipped into the envelope which the victim ultimately took home.
A police report was filed and investigators set about gathering CCTV footage, including at the airport, piecing together evidence in the form of flight tickets, hotel bookings and localisation records, in an attempt to track down the perpetrator.
Police authorities in various parts of Europe were also alerted and a European Arrest Warrant issued.
The suspect was located in Finland where he was being investigated over similar fraud and was handed over to the Maltese authorities on January 13.
The man, who claimed to be a car dealer during his arraignment today, pleaded not guilty to organised crime, circulation of false money and fraud.
The prosecution’s request for a freezing order was upheld by the court, presided over by magistrate Yana Micallef Stafrace, in the presence of the victim who attended the sitting.
The request for bail was, however, turned down after the court heard submissions by both parties, in view of the fact that the man had no fixed address in Malta.
Inspectors Shaun Friggieri and Colin Sheldon, together with lawyer Karl Muscat, on behalf of the AG’s Office, prosecuted.
Lawyers Robert Dingli and Nicole Sultana were defence counsel.
Lawyers Franco Debono and Amadeus Cachia appeared parte civile.
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