Ronald Azzopardi – former MEPA board member, and victim of a shooting allegedly perpetrated by a former business partner – had his plea to revoke a seizure order, issued over €1.32 million he owes in social security payments, refused by the courts.
The social security payments, spanning 10 years between 1995 and 2005, had to be paid back to the Commissioner of Inland Revenue (CIR) in monthly instalments of €28,199.
Azzopardi asked the courts to revoke the seizure order since he had signed an agreement with the CIR to pay back the social security payments. However, the CIR contested that the agreement itself did not in any way nullify the order, and that Azzopardi had not yet effected any payment.
The Court said that since the original obligations had been kept in place even when the tax agreement was signed, there was no understanding that previous obligations had to be cancelled. The Court pointed out that the tax agreement did not carry any such clause that would nullify the order issued against him in the name of the CIR.
The social security payments are owed by Azzopardi in the name of Sovereign Hotels, operator of the Windsor Hotel, which he once co-owned with Giosue Gauci.
Azzopardi was allegedly shot on 8 February 2005 in Sliema by Gauci, father of Priceclub supermarket director Chris Gauci. Azzopardi resigned from the MEPA board three weeks after the shooting. It is understood that Gauci had resigned from director of the company in 2004. Registry records list Gauci’s company Taormina Holdings as shareholder in Sovereign Hotels.
The shooting had took place in Azzopardi’s office. In court Gauci claimed he had loaned Azzopardi Lm30,000 (€70,000) which had not been honoured, and that Azzopardi had first produced the gun before he shot him. Azzopardi however claimed he was sitting at his desk when the two started arguing and Gauci first punched him and then produced a gun.
Taormina Holdings, and Day to Day Ltd, both owned by Giosue Gauci, had been the beneficiaries of two loans each of Lm400,000 (€931,750) from Priceclub Investments, as noted in the PricewaterHouse Coopers investigative audit by auditor John Zarb into Pricelub.
Azzopardi was somewhat of a silent partner in the business with Giosue Gauci but when the company faced difficulties he took over and managed to swing the fortunes of the company round.