Updated | MFSA to allow Satabank clients controlled withdrawals

Satabank clients to be given controlled withdrawal of their deposits

The MFSA has directed auditors EY, who have been appointed as competent persons to monitor the international bank Satabank, to initiate a controlled process for the return of customer deposits over a period of time.

The variation on its freezing order comes as clients of Satabank were only being allowed viewing rights to their accounts with no direct access to their funds, the Malta Independent has reported. “Satabank customers now have read only access to view their online account balances. There remains no access to submit transactions, make withdrawals or close accounts. We will continue to provide updates as soon as we are able to,” a spokesperson for the bank told MaltaToday.

They included some 28 gaming compainies which used the bank to effect withdrawals to their customers.

The release of funds will however be subject to certain controls and checks following which, funds may be transferred. This process will require Satabank customers to verify their identity and provide additional information and details of another account with a credit or payment institution in an EU/EEA jurisdiction in the same name as the existing account at Satabank to which monies can be transferred. If a customer does not have an alternative account with a credit or payment institution in an EU/EEA jurisdiction, they are encouraged to set one up as soon as possible.

The relevant authorities are agreeing the process and further guidance will be provided by the Competent Person on the bank’s website as soon as practical, although this is likely to take several weeks.

Although Satabank continues to meet all capital and liquidity requirements, the MFSA's measure shall remain in force until such time as the the regulator shall otherwise direct.

The bank was placed under the guardianship of auditors EY as a competent person last week after a joint inspection and audit by the MFSA and the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit (FIAU) found shortcomings in the bank’s anti-money laundering procedures, according to reports. 

The Central Bank then suspended the participation of Satabank plc in Target2-Malta, and the MFSA ordered the bank to suspend a number of its services such as refraining from taking further deposits, or processing any withdrawal or outward transfers from any accounts held by the bank. 

EY are now tasked by the MFSA to take charge of Satabank’s assets, having frozen the bank’s operations. 

In July, Satabank was slapped with a €60,500 fine after it was found to be in breach of risk management laws. 

The bank was also named by a Sicilian prosecutor as having been used by fuel trader Gordon Debono to receive ‘illicit’ payments through his Maltese company Petroplus Ltd as part of an alleged €30 million fuel smuggling ring.