The Malta Independent 18 May 2021, Tuesday

Yorgen Fenech’s lawyers request access to Caruana Galizia tax returns in €5 million damages case

Wednesday, 14 April 2021, 09:43 Last update: about 2 months ago

One of Yorgen Fenech’s team of lawyers has requested access to murdered journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia’s tax returns, in a compensation case filed by Caruana Galizia’s heirs.

Caruana Galizia was murdered in a 2017 car bombing. Tumas magnate Yorgen Fenech stands charged with plotting her murder, together with others.

Yesterday, lawyer Anna Mallia requested copies of Daphne Caruana Galizia’s tax returns to verify the amount of damages being claimed by her family: €5 million.

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Last year, the family filed the €5 million garnishee order against Fenech and 57 of his companies, which was provisionally upheld by the court in February.

Fenech’s lawyer is arguing that the sum requested is “arbitrary, exaggerated and abusive”, and that no documentation was included to verify the claim.

In documents presented to the court, the heirs had provided a breakdown of the victim’s earnings as in a similar case against Melvin Theuma.

“Up to the age of 73, [Caruana Galizia’s] income would have been €5,032,967. Very probably she would have discovered that Yorgen Fenech is the owner of 17 Black and therefore the income from her blog would have increased substantially,” widower Peter Caruana Galizia stated in an affidavit.

Peter Caruana Galizia however told the court on 13 April that he was not sure if the tax returns even existed anymore, but that any outstanding tax arrears had been settled. “I reached an agreement with the tax department and paid a lot of money. We cleared everything,” he told the judge.

Mallia retorted: “It’s not what you declare that matters, but what you pay in tax,” insisting that Peter Caruana Galizia “didn’t want to” exhibit the returns.

The Caruana Galizia family lawyer Joseph Zammit Maempel has argued that whether or not her heirs had accepted the inheritance with the benefit of inventory, or whether there are debts in her name, changed nothing from the legitimacy of their claim.

In the separate garnishee against Melvin Theuma, Mr Justice Grazio Mercieca had decreed that at first glance, damages over a projected 10-year period until the victim were to reach retirement age, together with expenses relating to lawsuits and loss of work by the heirs following her death, came to €2.1 million.

The case will continue in May.

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