Malta’s Pilatus Bank has been shut down by the European Central Bank (ECB). Its banking license was revoked after its chairman was charged within the U.S. with cash laundering and organizing a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions. The financial institution had additionally been accused by a murdered journalist of processing corrupt funds. EU authorities now need new powers to crack down on cash laundering.
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Pilatus Bank’s License Revoked
Malta Monetary Companies Authority (MFSA) introduced on Monday that the ECB has withdrawn the banking license of Pilatus Bank which has been working in Malta for 4 years.
The Monetary Instances elaborated:
The transfer comes a number of months after U.S. authorities charged the financial institution’s Iranian-born proprietor and former chairman Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad with organising a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions towards Iran by illegally funnelling greater than $115 million from Venezuela to Iranian-controlled corporations.
“The financial institution was charged in the US over cash laundering and financial institution fraud,” Reuters added.
Though Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad pleaded not responsible and has been launched on bail, MFSA eliminated him from his roles on the financial institution and froze the financial institution’s belongings. In June, the regulator really helpful revoking the financial institution’s license however confronted quite a few authorized hurdles. On Monday, MFSA mentioned that “the ECB had acted on its request to shut the financial institution,” the Guardian wrote.
Pilatus Bank, which caters to rich purchasers, reported 308 million euros ($351.64 million) of belongings in 2016, in accordance to the financial institution’s annual report. Final yr, it opened a department in London after acquiring a U.Ok. banking license. The financial institution “was recognized to have held accounts for a senior official within the authorities of the Maltese prime minister, Joseph Muscat, and members of Azerbaijan’s ruling household,” the Monetary Instances detailed.
Murdered Journalist’s Case
Pilatus Bank had additionally been accused of “processing corrupt funds for senior Azeri and Maltese figures” by Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Reuters described.
Caruana Galizia was killed by a automobile bomb in Malta a yr in the past. Nevertheless, there was no confirmed hyperlink between her homicide and her story in regards to the financial institution, the publication conveyed. Nonetheless, the occasion prompted the EU to start investigating the financial institution in October final yr.
“Three males suspected of killing her – brothers George and Alfred Degiorgio and their pal Vince Muscat – have been arrested throughout a police operation in December 2017,” the BBC added.
Maltese Authorities Investigated
The ECB launched two investigations of how Malta handled Pilatus Bank final yr, Reuters detailed. The primary targeted on MFSA however the case was closed in September “partially due to the vagueness of EU regulation,” European Banking Authority Chairman Andrea Enria informed EU lawmakers.
The second investigation targeted on the Maltese Monetary Intelligence Evaluation Unit (FIAU), the nation’s anti-money laundering company. Enria emphasised that this investigation has uncovered “severe shortcomings that the physique didn’t treatment,” the publication famous. A senior EU official defined:
The European Fee reached preliminary settlement on Monday on new actions towards the FIAU over its dealing with of the Pilatus case, which is able to power Malta to enhance the best way its anti-money laundering physique operates.
Citing that U.S. authorities performed a giant position in uncovering alleged illicit banking actions in a number of European instances, the Guardian reported that “EU authorities need new powers to crack down on cash laundering after a string of scandals in Estonia, Latvia and Malta.”
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Photos courtesy of Shutterstock, Lovin Malta, FIAU, MFSA, and Pilatus Bank.
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