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MALTATODAY 12 June 2022

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6 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 12 JUNE 2022 NEWS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 WHILE sources who spoke to this newspaper said they wit- nessed the Tal-Qasab dealership owner Chris Spiteri availing of the services of a San Gwann mechanic to tamper with the odometers, the mechanic – who also directed this newspaper to his lawyer – has denied any wrongdoing. "I was just offering a service – mileage correction... When you go to an ironmonger to cut a key, does he ask you whether the key was stolen and wheth- er you will be using it to enter someone's house?" the me- chanic said. The mechanic's lawyer insist- ed with MaltaToday that his client was never involved in any illegal activity. "He has the equipment to carry out odome- ter corrections, but he was nev- er involved in any fraudulent schemes." But the mechanic was also spoken to by the police, but not under caution. When contacted, the me- chanic insisted he was carrying out mileage correction, a pro- cess of adjusting or re-calibrat- ing the number of miles a car's odometer displays on its digital dashboard. He first denied giving his ser- vices to Chris Spiteri, but later admitted that he had no knowl- edge of the racket. "What if he tells you there is mistake? How am I supposed to know what he intends doing? Mileage correc- tion is a service that is widely used across the world. Odom- eter correction is a service like many other services in the car industry," he said. Industry experts who spoke to this newspaper confirmed that the service is available across the country, and can be carried out using hardware which is al- so widely available online. "What someone does with that service, is not my busi- ness," the mechanic said. During the phone call, the mechanic emphatically denied any involvement, but was apol- ogetic towards the car deal- erships and pleaded with this newspaper not to take the issue any further. "I even have my own client who has now spoken to them (Tal-Qasab and Rokku) for compensation and a two-year warranty," he said. "You have no idea of the damage you are causing." "I'm not saying that what they did was good, but haven't they suffered enough? Haven't they got their punishment?" he said. He also said the two dealers were contacted by JEVIC rep- resentatives from Japan. "They have been asking about what the whole issue in Malta is about." When challenged as to why he was defending them when he was claiming ignorance about their deeds, the mechan- ic changed tack. "I'm defending myself. Nobody in Malta does everything legally (subajhom dritt), nobody." He also said that "everyone" had played a part in the racket. "Who started everything? You know who started everything – the police and Transport Mal- ta. They did not carry out the necessary checks. That's why the others took advantage of the system," he said. Since MaltaToday revealed the odometer scandal last Sunday, scores of people have reached out to this newspaper to detail their cases. The report led to the used cars lobby UVIA to carry out random checks on members after the mileage racket rev- elations. The Used Vehicle Importers Association unan- imously agreed to implement stricter measures. "One of the said measures is that, apart from the current due diligence process that is already in place, the association will commit to introduce a yearly random check on members with the aim of ensuring that they are being compliant with the re- spective standards," UVIA sec- retary general Albert Fenech said. Fenech said the association has always stressed that its members should pursue the best quality standards and re- quirements, both for the sake of the consumer and the rep- utation of genuine members alike. Transport Malta denied any involvement in the scam, in- sisting it relies on official docu- mentation provided by the po- lice and customs officials who receive the used cars. "TM does not inspect any vehicles coming from non-EU countries, including Japan," it said. "The role of TM is to register such vehicles with the documents submitted by the motor dealer which include customs and police verifica- tions including a passed VRT test. The Malta Police Force has the full support and co- operation of the ministry and Transport Malta during the investigation on the matter which is ongoing." Despite the denial, TM still has access to the JEVIC da- tabase which has the original certification inputted into it by Japanese inspectors. The da- tabase is publicly accessible as well but no cross-verification is done when car dealers present the paperwork. Mechanic says TM left door open for others to take advantage "I even have my own client who has now spoken to them (Tal-Qasab and Rokku) for compensation and a two-year warranty," he said. "You have no idea of the damage you are causing."

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