Repubblika takes Police Commissioner to court over inaction against Pilatus Bank officials

Repubblika says that after 15 months of the inquiry conclusion, no action has been taken against top Pilatus Bank officials

Repubblika President Robert Aquilina
Repubblika President Robert Aquilina

NGO Repubblika filed an appeal in Court against the Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa’, over inaction against top Pilatus Bank officials.

Repubblika President Robert Aquilina remarked how since March 2021, Police Commissioner Angelo Gafa and Attorney General Victoria Buttigieg did not act on the magisterial inquiry into the bank’s operations.

He said the inquiring magistrate concluded that crimes had been committed through the bank, including money laundering, trading of influence, criminal association, declaration of false statements to public authorities and the financing of an association with criminal intent.

“Through that inquiry the Magistrate concluded that various criminal offenses had been committed, and ordered that criminal proceedings be taken against the bank, against the owner of the bank and against officials and directors of the bank,” Aquilina said.

Aquilina said police only took action against the bank and one of its officers. “No steps have been taken in Court against the owner of the bank and the other persons.”

He said the €7.5 million inquiry had ordered criminal proceedings against top Pilatus officials which includes operations supervisor Mehmet Tasli, operations chief Rivera Luis Felipe, owner Ali Sadr Hasheminejad, director Ghambari Hamidreza and chief risk officer Antoniella Gauci.

Aquilina added there is documentary evidence, including emails, which “clearly” indicate the crime of trading of influence between Ali Sadr Hasheminejad and Joseph Muscat’s former chief of staff Keith Schembri.

He also remarked that the inquiry recommended the reopening of the Egrant inquiry, the secret company in Panama which was closely linked to the bank.

Aquilina said that after the report submitted to Gafa’ in January 2022, and a reminder sent last April, the police never got back to the NGO on the matter.

“We will not allow Angelo Gafa ’, Alexandra Mamo and Victoria Buttiġieġ to follow in the footsteps of Lawrence Cutajar, Ian Abdilla and Peter Grech,” Aquilina said. The court action oby Repubblika was signed through its lawyer, Jason Azzopardi.

Pilatus Bank was at the centre of money laundering allegations involving several people close to former prime minister Joseph Muscat's administration. It shut down in March 2018 after the European Central Bank and the Malta Financial Services Authority withdrew its licence when its owner was arrested in the US and charged with breaching sanctions against Iran.