Man gives up house and boat to loan shark af­ter ac­cu­mu­lat­ing €130,000 debt

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

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.

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