Man gives up house and boat to loan shark after accumulating €130,000 debt
A man was forced to hand over his house keys and boat as payment for the €130,000 demanded as capital plus interest on an initial loan of €15,000 a court heard yesterday.
Dunstan Caruana, who is charged with usury, also assaulted the victim on numerous occasions as punishment for missing payments.
The victim, who is a self-employed plumber and electrician and whose name cannot be mentioned by court order, was summoned before magistrate Aaron Bugeja to testify in criminal proceedings against Mr Caruana.
The man had initially borrowed a total of €15,000 from Joseph Manicaro known as Zu Zu in January 2013. The credit was then transferred from Manicaro to Caruana, who then raised the amount due to €30,000 due to accumulated interest. According to the victim a deed of loan was signed before notary Charles Vella Zarb whereby he had bound himself to pay 5% per month.
This pattern of lending continued with the victim borrowing a further €2,000 from Caruana who ordered that the man pay €20,000 in return. On this occasion the man bound himself to pay the accused €1,200 per month. This again was agreed to before Notary Charles Vella Zarb.
The victim had also lost a bet of €5,000 to Caruana on the results of the previous general election. He then claimed that Caruana insisted that the victim pay a further €5,000.
The man tried to reduce his debt by transferring his boat, which was valued at €15,000, to Caruana. Drowning under enormous debt, the man transferred the ownership of his residence to the accused.
The court heard how the man was victim to several violent episodes whenever he missed payment. He claimed that Caruana would often threaten him with violence towards him and his children, and often the threats would turn into beatings as was the case in June 2015 were the accused was assaulted on his doorstep.
The case was adjourned to December for more witnesses to testify. Lawyer Jason Azzopardi is appearing parte civile on behalf of the victim.