Bribe update: some businessmen, those are

Published: September 30, 2011 at 8:18pm

Di-Ve has published the names of the ‘businessmen’ involved in the bribery case. Tad-disperazzjoni.

Man charged with €750,000 fraud
by 29 September 2011 — 12:40CEST

A man has been charged with defrauding people of around €750,000 by claiming to be a senior official with SmartCity Malta.
45-year-old Msida resident Joseph Friggieri is accused of defrauding Joseph Spiteri, Doris Spiteri, Rodney Spiteri, Janice Coney and Ignatius Debono out of the amount.

Mr Friggieri allegedly told them that his connections could help them make lucrative investments in large foreign companies. At one point, the victims had paid for nearly a summer’s worth of hotel accommodation after they were told that around 40 Chinese investors would be arriving in Malta to finalise contracts.

Mr Friggieri, who is pleading not guilty to the charges, said that he only received around €200,000 in cheques, and not the €750,000 indicated by the prosecutions. But the alleged victims maintained that much of the money involved was paid in cash.

Lawyer Joseph Giglio, who appeared in parte civile, said that one of his clients had to sell his supermarket to pay Mr Friggieri.

Mr Friggieri is also accused of committing a crime during the operative term of a suspended sentence and of relapsing. Last July, he was arraigned over similar charges.

He is being represented by lawyers Franco Debono and Charmaine Cherrett, while inspector Ian Joseph Abdilla is prosecuting.

And in The Malta Independent:

Court: Man who posed as TM official charged with fraud for second time
30 September 2011

A 45-year-old unemployed man, who last July posed as a “high-ranking” Transport Malta official to con businesses out of €55,000, was yesterday granted bail after he pleaded not guilty to conning other businesses out of €750,000.

Joseph Friġġieri, from Msida, was granted bail by Magistrate Antonio Micallef Trigona, when he pleaded not guilty to conning Joseph Spiteri, Doris Spiteri, Rodney Spiteri, Janice Coney and Ignatius Debono out of over €750,000.

He was also charged with committing the crime within the operative period of a suspended sentence and with relapsing.

Defence lawyer Charmaine Cherrett requested bail, as she pointed out that her client had cooperated fully with the police. Although the prosecution opposed the request, Magistrate Micallef Trigona said he would allow bail.

Mr Friġġieri would allegedly promise businesses that he could get them profitable contracts with Smart City, but would ask for money upfront, for certain tasks he had to carry out.

In one such case he allegedly booked a hotel in Buġibba for the whole summer, supposedly in order to accommodate Chinese officials who had to work in Malta for the summer.

Last July he was also charged with conning two businessmen out of €55,000, after he again convinced them he was a “high-ranking” official at the Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications, headed by Austin Gatt.

He used to tell them that he knew the head of secretariat, Emmanuel Delia, well and had convinced them he could pull some strings with his friends in the ministry, so that they would be awarded tenders for the Smart City project.

Mr Friġġieri, who was defended by lawyers Franco Debono and Charmaine Cherrett, was granted bail against a personal guarantee of €15,000. Police Inspector Ian Abdilla prosecuted.

37 Comments Comment

  1. Pecksniff says:

    Some people are blinded by greed; before parting with the dosh, a simple phone call to the real Smart City offices would have shown that the accused had absolutely no connection with Smart City.

    Does the law contemplate action against people who are prepared to pay bribes to gain an unfair advantage over competitors?

    The fraudster offered the bait but these socalled “businessmen/women” swallowed it hook, line and sinker.

    • A. Charles says:

      The German poet Schiller wrote that:

      With such stupidity, the gods themselves struggle in vain.

    • Peter Pan says:

      Could it be Chesterton was thinking of us?
      ‘Therefore there has arisen in modern life a literary fashion devoting itself to the romance of business, to great demigods of greed and to fairyland of finance’.

  2. Grezz says:

    “HAD to sell his supermarket to pay Mr Friggieri”? Surely that should have read “sold”?

  3. SC says:

    ‘one of his clients had to sell his supermarket to pay Mr Friggieri.’. At least some justice in all this.

  4. Anthony says:

    The plot thickens.

  5. Harry Purdie says:

    Some ‘business people’ need a ‘helping hand’. Works well on the rock. Nuff said.

  6. Joe Micallef says:

    For a couple of years I worked as a freelance marketing advisor and many times I was called in to help increase sales. In Malta the meaning of marketing seldom goes beyond that.

    To cut a long, sad story short on a number of occasions I had to tell the owners that according to their balance sheet their business was bankrupt – much to their surprise and disbelief.

    • silvio says:

      I would have thought that was the responsibilty of the company’s auditor, not of the marketing manager.

      The point of any business is to increase sales and profits. Unfortunately, sometimes the use of some unethical methods is necessary, both for increasing profits, and something that most businesmen are not credited with, the safeguarding of the jobs of their dependents.

      It is persons that ask for bribes whoare the criminals, especialy when they have the POWER to put businessmen in a corner, and the only way is to cooperate.

      [Daphne – Silvio, yours is a sleazy attitude and a criminal one too. People would not ask for bribes unless other people were prepared to cooperate and pay them. Paying a bribe is cooperation in a criminal act. The person who bribed Noel Arrigo and Patrick Vella was jailed too.]

      • silvio says:

        Every case has to be treated on its own merit.

        Killing another person is a criminal act.

        But is self defence criminal as well?

        There is a difference between offering a bribe, and being put in a position to accept to pay a bribe, or else…

        [Daphne- Or else what, Silvio? Or else you don’t get the contract? You pay a bribe because you want the contract. Otherwise you would do the decent thing and bring in the police.]

    • Harry Purdie says:

      Had a similar experience here, while consulting. However the company’s auditor showed me the second set of books.

      One for the taxman (just about bankrupt) and the ‘real’ one (very nice indeed).

      Just shook my head. And quit.

      • silvio says:

        I am not saying that there aren’t some unscrupulous businessmen. You must have had the missfortune of coming across one of them.

        That surely doesn’t make all businessman like that.

      • silvio says:

        Dear Daphne, when you were younger, we had a very funny case in Malta, when a businessman, going by the name of E. Cachia, reported a case of corruption (by a Labour minister) and was sent to jail for defaiming the minister.

        I would really like you to cheek it out.

        [Daphne – That was then and this is now, Silvio. There hasn’t been any such excuse for years.]

        Maybe this could be the reason why we are not agreeing on this issue.

        Maybe you are right, but some people must have gone through some bad experiences which will surely influence their way of seeing things.

        [Daphne – Not ‘maybe’, Silvio. I am right. It’s the civilised norm, and against the law in civilised countries.]

        I must repeat that I do not condone or approve of this way of doing business, but as I said before, sometimes one is put in a position where he can’t refuse.

        [Daphne – Because what? He might be shot? Flogged in public?]

        One last thing, bribing and corruption are not only resticted to contracts, but are found in all walks of life like, getting a job, you name it.

        [Daphne – Yes, precisely because your attitude is prevalent.]

        Some persons use their position to make money, that is why I said that it is these people who should be sent to prison and not those who are made to pay for something which is rightfully theirs.

        [Daphne – If you bribed to get it, then it is not rightfully yours.]

  7. Tim Ripard says:

    Peanuts. Vienna Airport (parent company of MIA) accepted invoices inflated by over €900,000,000. Greeks did it to the tune of billions.

    Civilisation is only a thin veneer. We are still jungle animals underneath.

    It’s simply the same instinct that drives women to say they don’t know the father of their children. Eat or be eaten is the norm for sooooooo many. Solidarity, my arse.

    That’s not to say there aren’t decent, honest people around though.

  8. Jozef says:

    Who is this Joseph Friggieri?

    Where did the money go?

  9. edgar says:

    Everybody is calling themselves business men or women, even a person with two small shops selling baby things.

    • Richard Borg says:

      Baby things? as in baby forks?

      [Daphne – ‘Baby things’, as in things for babies. It’s idiomatic English, and therefore of ambiguous meaning to some.]

      • Richard Borg says:

        or baby saucers?

      • Richard Borg says:

        yes ‘baby things’ is the epitome of idiomatic english. Should someone ask to describe what idiomatic english is – ‘baby things’ would be anyone’s, who doesn’t find idioms ‘ambiguous’, first reply.

        Baby aliens?

        [Daphne – Richard, you have a problem.]

    • H.P. Baxxter says:

      That’s because in today’s world, if you’re not an “entrepreneur”, you’re a nobody. Hemm tant opportunitajiet, you see. Followed by the usual cliché about tistenna l-bajtra taqa’ f’halqek.

      • Harry Purdie says:

        Hey Baxxter. I’m an entrepreneur and consider myself a nobody.

        Didn’t quite get your Maltese, but, if I get your drift, you called me an opportunist.

        Time we had another drink.

      • H.P. Baxxter says:

        My apologies. I should have included a translation. No, I wasn’t calling you an opportunist. The second sentence is a reference to 21st century Maltese rhetoric on the “world of opportunities out there”.

        This is usually followed by a contemptuous remark which assumes that if you didn’t make it, it’s because you didn’t try.

        This is conveniently forgetting that not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur.

        If Rolls hadn’t provided financial backing for Royce, we wouldn’t have Rolls-Royce. If Leonardo da Vinci hadn’t found a patron, he’d have been just another starving artist. Edison had a flair for both invention and business, so he flourished on his own.

        But he was the rarer kind.

        So yes, I was going out of point there. But I think I know why everyone is suddenly a “businessman”.

      • Harry Purdie says:

        No apologies necessary, but thanks for clarifying your point for me.

        I would consider an entrepreneur a risk-taker, finding an opportunity, capitlizing on it, coupled with a hell of a lot of hard work, whether self-funded or by others. And the failure rate is relatively high.

        So, Baxxter, I don’t mind being called an opportunist–ie, searching for opportunities. I’m confident Rolls, Leonardo, and Edison seized upon their own perceived opportunities to be successful. Don’t think I’m quite at their level, though.

  10. Matthew says:

    The reason why many Maltese businesses will fail to secure contracts in Libya is not because the Libyan authorities will discriminate against them but because many Maltese have no idea how to run a profitable, completely above-board business.

    No doubt they will claim discrimination and get all nostalgic about Gaddafi.

    • Joethemaltaman says:

      Don’t exaggerate, Matthew. Do you think most businessmen are idiots? Malta has a long history in commerce and I know a lot of honest folks out there.

  11. George says:

    The so-called business men/women should be prosecuted as well.

    Paying a bribe is just as bad as accepting it. There is no other way round it.

  12. Mark Vassallo says:

    Will the ‘businessmen’ be charged?
    Isn’t it as much a crime to pay a bribe as it is to receive a bribe?

  13. Sandro's Ferrari says:

    Janice Coney the ‘businesswoman’ is actually a nail technician – Nails By Janice:

  14. Anthony says:

    The elves are working on Smart City, Austin Gatt and nail technicians – the connection.

    Across the pond this is ” baloney “.

  15. yor/malta says:

    These so called business people are in for a shock if they have been declaring that their businesses make very little money when they have many thousands to pay bribes because now the taxman should be drawn to them like a moth to a light .

  16. paddy says:

    These business persons must not get the money back as they tried to bribe too.

  17. red nose says:

    Business is business and the “bribing” business is very lucrative, it seems.

  18. Dee says:

    What qualifications are required to be considered as a ‘businessman’ – apart from the bella faccia tosta of assuming, as these persons did ,that offering bribes is the one sure way of getting a contract?

Leave a Comment