Nothing personal: Police say they found no suspicious transactions involving Pilatus director

No illegalities were found in her personal life, but police argue that repeated actions in Sant Fournier's professional career meant she was "assisting and abetting money laundering"

A police investigator has told the court compiling evidence against a director at Pilatus bank accused of money laundering that there were no suspicious personal transactions which involved her.

The case against Claude Anne Sant Fournier, who is facing money laundering charges, continued today with police inspector Pauline Bonello testifying as to how the investigations leading to Sant Fournier’s arrest were carried out.

During questioning, the accused did not reply to any questions, initially in order to first see the evidence against her. After the disclosure of this evidence was complete, Sant Fournier told the police that she knew that she would be charged and that if she had anything to say she would say it in court.

Inspector Bonello told magistrate Donatella Frendo Dimech that she had been instructed to investigate Sant Fournier to see if she had received any property or other assets besides her wages whilst working at Pilatus. “There was nothing,” said the inspector.

“So you are saying that from your investigations, the only thing she received was her salary?” asked the magistrate.

“Yes,” replied the officer.

Cross-examined by lawyer Kathleen Calleja Grima, Bonello added that the police needed to engage external experts to help with the investigations. “We sent for representatives of other banks in Malta to check whether Sant Fournier had made any suspicious transactions and Transport Malta about any vehicle transfers and so on. There was nothing.”

Calleja Grima: “Nothing suspicious?“


“Nothing illegal?”


The court asked to clarify a point. “So in her personal capacity there was no illegality on her part?” asked the magistrate.

“No. As a person she was employed as an MLRO (Money Laundering Reporting Officer) with the bank and had obligations… Her employment is another issue, but in her personal assets there was nothing illegal,” Bonello replied.

“So the laundering would have been as part of the set up of the bank?” the court queried.

“There were some repeated mistakes over time which constituted a course of conduct, as the experts told me…” said the inspector. “She was assisting and abetting the money laundering.”

“She was personally responsible for her actions,” argued the inspector, but conceded that she would sign all correspondence in her official capacity and never used her personal email for work-related tasks.

Calleja Grima told the witness that the defence had not been given a copy of the charges before Sant Fournier’s arraignment as they were still being drafted at the Attorney General’s office.

“Do you recall being asked whether or not she would be charged in her personal capacity?” asked the lawyer, suggesting that this possibility had not been discussed.

“Yes it was an off the record thing, I answered according to the information I had at the time”

The lawyer asked why the woman was charged in her personal capacity too. “As MLRO, Sant Fournier was involved or personally knew of transactions which the experts said should have been reported or investigated further,” was the reply.

“Was there an explanation for this U-turn? This volte-face?,” asked Calleja Grima.

“She was responsible for her actions, if I go to work and do something wrong I am personally responsible for my actions… There was a course of conduct. There was an intent in all these mistakes.”

Lawyer Stefano Filletti, defence counsel together with Calleja Grima asked the inspector how many other banks had been charged over administrative shortcomings and how many other MLROs have been arraigned.

“None,” replied the witness.

“So against all these banks which you investigated and found shortcomings in, they only got an administrative fine, but in this identical case there is ‘a course of conduct'.”

“I cannot answer this question,” Bonello replied. “I take instructions from those above me.”

The Court warns the inspector that she confirmed the charges on oath. “Are you saying that you didn’t believe the charges you signed?”

“No. But I cannot make the decision as to who is going to be arraigned criminally or administratively,” replied the witness.

Filletti complained to the court that there was no explanation as to why a course of conduct had been identified when other people did the same thing.

Also testifying on Wednesday was Inspector Claire Borg from the Financial Crimes Investigation Department.

She testified as to how the magisterial inquiry started and gave a rundown of the timeline of the investigation.

Calleja Grima pointed out that she mentioned Ali Sadr, who was arrested in USA on a separate issue. “Are you aware that he was exonerated in the US?,” asked the lawyer.

“He was involved in a money laundering case. It doesn’t mean he is not wanted in Malta,” replied the inspector.

The defence informed the court that it was not contesting prima facie insofar as regards her position and her capacity as Director, head of compliance and MLRO, without prejudice to the merits.

The case continues on Friday.

Prosecutors Cinzia Azzopardi Alamango and Marthese Grech are appearing for the office of the Attorney General, Inspectors Claire Borg and Pauline Bonello are prosecuting.