The Malta Independent 21 February 2019, Thursday

Two brothers charged with trying to sell fake Persian carpets

Thursday, 7 February 2019, 13:08 Last update: about 13 days ago

Two brothers were remanded in custody this afternoon, after being charged with conspiracy to commit fraud by selling fake Persian carpets to wealthy individuals.

The men, who cannot be named on account of an ongoing police investigation, allegedly targeted what were described as “prominent persons” in their own homes, offering to sell carpets which they claimed were hand-made Persian carpets at a high price. The carpets turned out to be machine-manufactured fakes.

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Information gleaned from the men’s receipt books revealed that several people had been tricked by the scam, Inspectors Mario Xiberras and Shaun Friggieri told magistrate Francesco Depasquale. The amount allegedly defrauded runs into the thousands, said the inspectors.

During the investigation, the police noted that several payments had been made through Portuguese banks to third parties, who were still being investigated by the police.

The men were charged with conspiracy to commit a crime, fraud of over €5,000, failing to provide valid VAT receipts and offering VAT-chargeable services without registration. One of the men was also accused of knowingly making use of a false driving licence.

The prosecution asked the court to ban the publication of the men’s names so as not to compromise the ongoing police investigation and requested the freezing of the men’s assets in terms of money laundering legislation. The court acceded to both requests.

Lawyer Helen Caruana, appearing for the accused together with lawyer Shazoo Ghaznavi entered a not guilty ple. She told the court that that she believed the men had been arrested prematurely, saying that she found it hard to believe that in the short time they were arrested the police found sufficient evidence to press charges.

Inspector Friggieri replied that two statements were taken from each accused individual and that the police had thoroughly examined the case before concluding their investigation into the two men.

The court pointed out that at that stage, the case had already been heard and would be dealt with by another magistrate, before whom the accused would be free to bring forward any further arguments they wished to.

Bail was not requested at this stage.

The men were then handcuffed and led away.

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