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MALTATODAY 19 February 2023

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4 maltatoday | SUNDAY • 19 FEBRUARY 2023 NEWS CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1 Novak started working at a se- curity services company when he came to Malta, driving a company car. "After around two years, I decided to buy a new car. When asking around for a bank loan, it was impossible to get one, and so I had to resort to a no deposit contract," No- vak told this newspaper of the attractiveness of No Deposit's policy for people like him: for- eign workers without credit or long-term residency to obtain a bank loan. In May 2018, he bought a Peu- geot 208 hatchback from the company under a hire-purchase agreement. Customers pay no direct deposit to acquire a car in a hire-purchase agreement, in- stead paying their monthly fee for a fixed number of months, until it is totally paid for. Novak has paid €11,400 over five years for his car from the company, whose ultimate bene- ficial owner is Christian Borg – one of a groups of five business associates who was arrested and charged with the kidnapping of a man in Rabat in 2022. They are pleading not guilty to the charges of beating up the man and threatening him, and have since then been released on bail. A number of No Deposit Cars Malta and now-shuttered Easy Finance Motor House custom- ers have since approached Mal- taToday with stories of having had their bank accounts frozen by garnishee orders, after they stopped paying their monthly rates for what they claim are damaged cars. Novak explained how he was paying monthly payments to the company, never having encountered any major issues with his car. While paying the monthly rates, he was also pay- ing insurance and licence fees No Deposit Cars, in line with the agreement made with them. MaltaToday has seen the li- cence disks issued to the car Novak was paying for, as well as the receipts issued to Novak for his monthly payments. "I had around €600 left to pay in January 2023, and decided to pay the difference, as insurance and licence was becoming too expensive. When I calculated it, it made more sense to get the payments out of the way and start paying for my own insur- ance," he said. That was when the problems started for Ivan. Problems begin to surface When he informed No Depos- it that he would be paying for the rest of the monthly rates, he was duly informed that the transfer of the car's ownership would take around two weeks. "Then around two weeks lat- er, Luke Milton (one of the men charged in the abduction case) who I was told was company di- rector, wanted to speak to me, because something was wrong," Novak told MaltaToday. Milton is also facing charges of fraud- ulently obtaining $700,000 from a car dealer and storing them in a "crypto wallet" to which only he had access. "MIlton told me the car could not be transferred to my name, as it was under 'bank owner- ship'. Instead, he told me to pick another car from the showroom that would be transferred to me," he said. "It was all com- municated to me very hurried- ly as Milton walked around the showroom. I had to stop him – 'listen, stop for a minute, ex- plain to me what is going on' – I felt as if he was trying to get rid of me." Novak was told he could choose from a range of cars of similar valuation to his Peuge- ot 208 – a Kia Rio, a Yaris, and a Renault Scenic. "They were not what I wanted," Novak told MaltaToday. "I insisted I want- ed either the car I had been pay- ing for, or one which was of the equivalent value for what I had paid," he said. "They told me to go there the following day, as they would have more cars available." Transport Malta delivers the bad news But Novak realised that some- thing fishy was going on, and decided to contact Transport Malta. "When I called them, they told me I had more than 40 out- standing contraventions on the car's registration, and I couldn't believe it," he said. "I demanded written proof of what they had just told me, but they could not give it to me since the car was formally registered under Chris- tian Borg's name and that infor- mation could not be divulged to me under GDPR rules." Novak is yet to receive feed- back from No Deposit Cars, believing they are trying to evade him. "Just last Saturday, I visited the showroom to see what would be happening, and I saw Milton getting in a car and speeding away." This newspaper has also seen Whatsapp messages between Novak and Milton, where the No Deposit Cars director can be seen ignoring the messages on a number of occasions, replying in very short sentences, or not even acknowledging Novak, de- spite the latter being unable to drive his Peugeot. Novak is now stuck with a car he cannot use, despite spending the last three years paying for it. "It's obviously affecting us greatly, and now simple er- rands like taking my daugh- ter to school have become a nightmare with taxis and pub- lic transport. Just last week my daughter caught a cold because she got drenched in the rain." Novak is currently seeking le- gal advice, and has already con- tacted the Slovenian embassy in Rome for help. Additional reporting by Luke Vella No fair deal on car he paid €11,000 for

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