PN MP David Thake has brought up a 2014 court judgment to dismiss claims by PL Whip Glenn Bedingfield that his company’s overdue VAT payments constituted the crime of misappropriating funds.
The 2014 case involved a certain Emmanuel Spiteri, who was charged with misappropriating funds after he failed to pass on some €38,000 in collected VAT to the tax authorities.
Back then, Magistrate Anthony Vella dismissed the case, ruling that misappropriation of funds involves a person possessing something that isn’t theirs, with the criminal intention to do something with that object which it wasn’t intended for.
This, he ruled, is different from the act of fulfilling a civil obligation. Otherwise, anyone owning money for electricity could be charged with misappropriating funds.
“Glenn Bedingfield is a law student. Clearly he has much more studying to do. Being in quarantine, he might have some extra time on his hands to read up this judgement (and others),” Thake said as he published a link to the judgment.
The tiff continued on Twitter as Thake posted an article quoting the judgment under a tweet by Bedingfield confirming he had tested positive for COVID-19.
“That might explain the crap that you said about my company having committed a crime,” Thake said. “Since you have some time on your hands, read this. Get well soon, and start making some sense. If you need help finding people who committed crimes, look around you.”
Bedingfield retorted by telling Thake to shoulder responsibility.
“While each case is a different story you’re in the same league as Bernard Grech,” he said. “Since you pretend to speak from a higher moral ground I expected better. Not a resignation, that’s too much for you lot, but at least a dignified apology, to show some respect and shoulder responsibility.”
Thake retorted by telling Bedingfield that his “pro-business” mask has fallen.
“You call all business owners who face cash flow problems ‘criminals’. Well done, Glenn! Yet your own buddies who loot our taxes and set up schemes to become billionaires you give your unconditional support to. What’s in it for you?”
Earlier this week, Times of Malta reported that Thake’s telecommunications company Vanilla Telecoms owes the tax authorities around €270,000 in VAT.
Thake vehemently denied that Vanilla had tried to evade tax, arguing that the VAT returns were filed on time and that his company’s own accounts department had actually taken the initiative after realising the VAT department’s website wasn’t showing updated figure for the company since 2016.
He said a voluntary repayment programme is being finalised and that the amount immediately due stands at €174,790, due to a government tax deferral scheme to help businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The PN MP also asked Hyzler to investigate the case to ensure his company’s actions don’t compromise his position as an MP.
What do you make of this latest dispute?