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MEP will report Pilatus to European Banking Authority unless MFSA revokes licence

Nationalist MEP David Casa has demanded that the MFSA revoke the licence of the private bank Pilatus, which was at the centre of the Egrant allegations

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella
22 November 2017, 2:02pm
Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad is the chairman of Pilatus Bank
Seyed Ali Sadr Hasheminejad is the chairman of Pilatus Bank
The Nationalist MEP David Casa will file a report against private bank Pilatus to the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority, in a bid to kick-start an inquiry into the bank’s licencing.

Casa has called on the Maltese financial regulator to revoke the bank’s licence, in a letter to chairman Joseph V. Bannister,

The bank was implicated in the Egrant investigation, when a magisterial inquiry was kick-started into allegations that the bank had processed a $1 million transaction for the Prime Minister’s wife.

Casa has called on MFSA chairman Joseph Bannister – who has been implicated in the Paradise Papers for holding directorships in offshore companies – “not to persist in the dereliction of his duty” and revoke the Pilatus licence.

Casa said he will report the matter to the European Central Bank unless Bannister takes action by the end of the week.

“As chairman of the MFSA you have been made aware of the results of investigations carried out by the FIAU. I refer in particular to those investigations that took place under former director Manfred Galdes and before the political capture and emasculation of this institution,” Casa writes in his letter.

“Pilatus Bank was named in at least three FIAU investigations in connection with the laundering of illicit funds for Azerbaijani and Maltese PEPs. On many counts the evidence is conclusive and overwhelming.”

A preliminary report to the Commissioner of Police in April 2016 by Galdes had demanded an investigation into the suspicion of money laundering, after the Prime Minister’s chief of staff Keith Schembri had an amount of money deposited in his account there by the auditor Brian Tonna, from Tonna’s offshore company in the British Virgin Islands. The allegation of wrongdoing is itself now a matter of a pending magisterial inquiry.

Casa said Pilatus was granted a licence in January 2014 in “circumstances that were, according to publicly documented facts, inconsistent with FATF recommendation 26.”

Casa claimed Pilatus’s continued presence in Malta was “a threat to the financial sector” and suggesting the bank enjoys the political favour of Keith Schembri.

“I must strongly urge you to do your job anyway. Commence the procedure to have Pilatus Bank’s license reviewed and revoked. Should you persist in the dereliction of your duties I will have no alternative but to formally report the matter to the European Central Bank and the European Banking Authority.”

matthew_vella
Matthew Vella is executive editor at MaltaToday.
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