A lawyer was yesterday charged with defrauding several companies of thousands of liri and with misappropriating the funds.

Reuben Micallef, 33, of San Gwann pleaded not guilty to defrauding Audio, Standard Electronics Ltd, KVH Computers, Infomate Ltd, Vision 2000, Biedbug Development Ltd and Raymond Briffa of over Lm1,000 each over the past months.

He was also charged with misappropriation and forming part of an organisation to commit a crime. During the arraignment, defence counsel Joseph Giglio made a request for bail, saying he felt he had to inform the court about the essence of the case.

Dr Giglio said his client had applied for a loan and the bank had issued a sanction letter. With this letter in hand, the accused started issuing post-dated cheques. The bank decided to withdraw the sanction letter when somebody tried to cash one such cheque. Consequently, the other cheques Dr Micallef had issued could not be cashed.

Dr Giglio also asked the court to ban publication of Dr Micallef's identity in order to "help contain the damage".

Police Inspector Ian Abdilla did not object to the request if this helped ensure that the victims would get their money back.

Magistrate Giovanni Grixti ruled there did not exist special reasons why he ought to order a ban on publication.

The magistrate granted Dr Micallef bail against a deposit of Lm1,000.

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