'No evidence could be produced to contradict the version of the accused'
A lawyer tasked with purchasing property and handling local business affairs on behalf of a foreign couple who intended to take up residence in Malta, was cleared of misappropriating funds entrusted to him in the course of his brief.
Lawyer Pio Valletta had allegedly been instructed by Rakhat Shoraz and his wife Elnara Shorazova to purchase property on the local market. A complaint was registered by the woman after discrepancies allegedly cropped up between the funds transferred and the receipts issued by the lawyer.
Criminal proceedings were instituted against the lawyer for having allegedly misappropriated funds which he turned to his own personal gain. Some €2.4 million had been transferred by his foreign clients and had been deposited in the account of a local company where Dr Valletta was a director.
Following the death of Mr Shoraz, his wife had left Malta for good and had declared that she had no further interest in the case since the issue with the Maltese lawyer had since been resolved.
During the proceedings, Dr Valletta had explained that the €2.4 million had been intended to finance an Austrian-based company. Since the funds could not be deposited in his clients’ ‘shelf company’, the money had been temporarily held in a current account belonging to another company where he was director.
It was pointed out that discussions had always been carried out with Mr Shoraz and that his wife had evidently not been aware of all that was agreed upon. The €700,000 transferred to the lawyer's account were an advance fee agreed upon with his foreign client.
The court, presided over by magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech, observed that the fact that Mr Shoraz had passed away and his wife refused to return to testify had weakened the prosecution’s case. “No evidence could be produced to contradict the version of the accused,” the court remarked.
For this reason, the court cleared the lawyer of the charges in his regard.