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MaltaToday 21 December 2022 MIDWEEK

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3 maltatoday | WEDNESDAY • 21 DECEMBER 2022 NEWS Contested form to fall under TM's remit from 1 January CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 The racket was facilitated by what appears to be the com- placency of officials at Trans- port Malta, who do not bother cross-checking physical docu- mentation presented to them by car dealers when they regis- ter the imported vehicles with the online records from the Japanese vetting authority for exports, JEVIC, which would indicate the true mileage. Industry sources told Malt- aToday that the racket starts the moment the cars arrive in Malta. When they are offloaded at Laboratory Wharf in the Grand Harbour, the police have to fill in the Vehicle 5 (VEH 005) customs and police inspection form. The manual form con- tains several fields, including one where the car's dashboard mileage is listed. However, it appears that dealers often used the excuse that the car battery has been exhausted as a result of the length of time it took the cargo ship to reach Malta so that the dashboard mileage cannot be read. Sources said police last week stopped filling in the VEH 005 form, insisting they did not want to handle it. Sources sug- gested this was because of an ongoing investigation related to MaltaToday's report. They said that even Trans- port Malta officials refused to step in, forcing the authorities' hands into introducing an in- demnity form. The form pro- tects the party from any risk and liabilities created. The sources said the employ- ees' refusal in clearing import- ed cars has created a backlog of cars, with one single com- pany having at least 80 vehicles awaiting clearance at the Labo- ratory Wharf. This in the end results is re- sulting in longer waiting times for customers. Replying to questions by this newspaper, the police said the process of filling the VEH 005 form is to be coordinated by Transport Malta as from the 1st January 2023. Questions on why the indem- nity form was introduced, and whether it clears the police of any legal liability remained un- answered. Questions have also been sent to Transport Malta, but no re- ply has been received. What has happened since the racket was revealed? Transport Malta has in- creased its scrutiny of docu- mentation presented by car dealers who import used vehi- cles from Japan. The regulator has stepped in to supplant a process previous- ly manned by police officers, to verify the mileage declared in documentation from import- ers, with data available in JE- VIC databases. Minister Aaron Farrugia told MaltaToday that Transport Malta has increased its scruti- ny of documentation of Japa- nese car importers. "Transport Malta has further strengthened its internal practices, as has the procedure by which vehicles imported from Japan are reg- istered, where the JEVIC cer- tificate is being independently verified by other entities," he said. Farrugia said the logbooks and other vehicle documenta- tion connected to the case are in the process of being replaced and updated according to the actual mileage. "TM has sent a letter to anyone affected to in- form them of this," he said. The minister also said the transport authority has con- tinued to collaborate with the police in their inquiries. The directors of two auto dealer ships have also been taken in for questioning by fi- nancial crime investigators, as police are mulling pressing charges over the suspected tampering. Three directors behind Rokku Autodealer in Għax- aq and Tal-Qasab Autosale in Santa Venera were interrogat- ed by officers from the police's Financial Crime Investigation Department. The second-hand car dealerships in the spotlight over the tampered mileage racket are Tal-Qasab of Qormi (left) and Rokku of Ghaxaq (right) THE decomposed body of a person was recovered by the police in Paradise Bay on Tuesday morning. The police said they received a report at around 8:45am that a dead person was spot- ted on the rocks in the Para- dise Bay area near Cirkewwa. The body was found in a heavily decomposed state, with the Civil Protection De- partment assisting in its re- covery. An autopsy on the cadaver is expected to establish the cause of death, with investi- gations are underway to help identify the dead person. The police said the dead body was found wearing red shorts. Duty magistrate Lara Lan- franco has launched an in- quiry, and has instructed sev- eral experts to assist her. Police investigations are on- going. Decomposed body, in red shorts, recovered on rocks in Paradise Bay

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