Freezing order for realtor who contested elections

Jane Chircop, one of four independent candidates in last year’s general election, has had her assets frozen in a criminal case after a string of prior civil cases concerning fraud and debt

Jane Chircop
Jane Chircop

A real estate entrepreneur and independent election candidate has been placed under a freezing order together with her group of companies, after a string of civil cases in court concerning her business activity.

The freezing order was imposed on Jane Chircop, President of the Women’s Indian Chamber of Commerce in Malta, and her company Sapphire Real Estate Group of Companies Limited, by a decree dated 20 February.

Chircop was one of four independent candidates in last year’s general election, having contested in the 2nd and 12th districts with a focus on representing women and families in politics.

The decree states that Chircop and her company is subject to criminal proceedings in front of Magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech.

Chircop also has a string of civil cases in court concerning her business activity as a real estate agent. In one case, the plaintiff paid over €140,000 to Chircop to purchase a block of apartments and garage, but after the sale fell through, Chircop failed to pay back all the money. In court, Chircop argued that this person failed to provide information on the source of funds paid to her company, as required by the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU).

However, the Court noted that Chircop failed to exhibit any evidence to prove that such information was required by the FIAU in the first place. Indeed, the plaintiff was never informed of any requests from the FIAU in this regard.

The Court was highly suspicious of Chircop’s argument here, saying that the need for FIAU documentation “was only a mise-en-scene for the defendants to avoid their obligations to refund the money transferred to them by the plaintiff.”

“Even the conduct of the defendant Jane Chircop worries this Court, after she changed her lawyer in the middle of the proceedings and then her second lawyer lost all contact with her.”

In a separate civil case, she was found to have misled a company which she was the franchisee of, into signing a contract. The court later declared this contract null and rescinded.

Here, Chircop tried suing another party for failing to honour a franchise agreement signed between the two of them. But here, the court found that she coerced the other party into signing this agreement, thus ruling that the contract was invalid.

During proceedings, the defendant said he suffered a huge loss working with her. “The franchise has not been as presented and the contract has not been followed by your side,” the plaintiff said in an email sent to Chircop and her daughter.

Even here, the Court was skeptical of Chircop’s behaviour, which was described as evasive in the Court’s judgement.  “Except for invoices and ‘customer inquiry forms’ made and amended by herself, her daughter, and/or her delegates, the plaintiff [Chircop] has not presented any other document that shows in any tangible way that the names ‘Sapphire Real Estate Services’ and ‘Only Made in Malta a concept by Sapphire Real Estate’ are indeed registered trademarks and that it really operates a real estate agency business.”

Moreover, Chircop failed to present anything in the acts of the case to show in any tangible way that she suffered a loss. “This is apart from the fact that the defendant’s failure to perform its obligation is a direct consequence of the malicious act of the plaintiff who has not transferred any intellectual property to the defendant.”

“This Court is therefore morally convinced that the consent of the defendants was obtained by fraudulent means on the part of the plaintiff,” the judgement reads. “She took advantage of the fact that they had not been in Malta for a long time and sought to win their trust by assuming an image of a sole trader with many contacts and with a strong business affiliated to the government and which is expanding.”

Chircop also fashions herself as a ‘global woman leader’ as a member of the G100, an Indian NGO that groups women entrepreneurs to discuss “real solutions for change on world issues”. Chircop is designated as a G100 ‘global chair for diplomacy and negotiations’.